Daily Expressions

By Jessica Lares

Dear journalists, you are not the consumer

It’s very easy to say that the App Store needs changes, but it’s harder to come up the actual problems. I think most of what has been said on the internet for the last few days is dead on wrong.

The last thing someone wants to look at after buying a $199 on contract phone is a huge page of editorial picks that prompt them to ask for more money. If you’re like me, you probably do most of your “shopping around” in the charts, looking through each category. I also use the “What’s New?” section and whatever nice curated sections they come out with, but a lot of people don’t like doing that second part.

You have to remember that consumers are force fed the majority of content they consume, and they have been lead to believe that charts are important, and so are numbers. Most are ignorant, and we can’t do anything about that. A lot of people won’t give something a chance until someone with better authority says to do so, and it has always been this way. Only recently did I buy a song last year that is starting to get lots of radio airplay now. I also got mocked by my brother and mother for liking a song by Imagine Dragons, who are now “huge fans”.

A lot of developers seem to think that Apple needs to appreciate their work more too, which I don’t agree with. If you want the spotlight, you have to have the same quality the bigger names apps do. You also have to be something more than a few thousand people would want. Vesper and Overcast are not popular just because of the names behind them, they’re popular because of their quality and ease of use.

Just only the other day did I see a developer promoting a picture based shopping list app that cut off every single word after like five characters. It looked great, but the execution was poor. There’s a lot of others out there who have been making apps for years, but have not made something that people can stand behind. Unread came to the RSS scene not only pretty late, but it’s trying to change how we use RSS feeds, by actually getting us to open them and read. CNN’s RSS feeds don’t work at all in Reeder, and some other sites are a nightmare to read through in that app, but I at least like that I can get headlines, mark as read, and move on. On the articles it does work on, it’s a pleasant experience, and there are things like turning on grayscale for images that I absolutely love.

It’s really hard to get people onboard with RSS feeds too. My dad loves StockTouch and Yahoo Weather, but he didn’t appreciate Flipboard. Heck, he even refuses to install Yahoo Mail and Gmail and uses Safari to access them. We’re talking about a guy who has a server and two computers in his office!

And what most of the people who are coming up with ideas to change the space forget is that a lot of these consumers are children and teenagers who won’t and can’t pay for the majority of paid apps.

There isn’t an App Store problem, there’s a consumer problem, and it’s really hard for us as individuals to deal with because they don’t want to listen to a minority of people who understand that free-to-play games are a bad thing. Regulations are a bad thing, but it’s the only way to fight companies who are willing to take advantage of the clueless.

Harsh, but there you go.

RE: Death of Comics

I saw this post from a GoComics sponsored blog in Reeder the other day and found it utterly ridiculous.

The New York Post obviously hasn’t cared about comics in a few years. I don’t blame them. Garfield is pretty stale nowadays (the comic book series is amazingly great though), and FoxTrot moved to Sundays many years ago. You can’t keep throwing money at syndicates, and you can’t risk it on newer strips. You don’t have parents bringing home the huge Sunday paper home every weekend like mine used to do, so you don’t have five year olds coming across that treasure of a section either.

And even if you did, the comics these days are just too complex, and maybe a little obscene. They’re political, very true to life, and have big vocabulary. Of course there have always been comics that have been written for older audiences, but it’s now more common than ever.

Years and years ago I posted a note to one of my favorites. The Dallas Morning News had stopped carrying their strip for whatever reason. It surprised them because they had no idea they were even in our newspaper to begin with. There is so much disconnection between newspapers, publishers, and cartoonists in general that it doesn’t surprise me that the New York Post incident wasn’t on the radar until weeks later.

I’ve been reading Garfield online since 1997, and am very happy to now have all of my favorites easily accessible from my iPad. And it’s easier than ever now to jump into a new (to me) series, read past strips, and enjoy tomorrow’s. For me, as someone growing up reading comics, this is HUGE, and I wish everyone would see it this way instead of panicking that nobody reads newspapers anymore.

The audience who wants to read your work has been here all along, now you just need to figure out a way to continue bringing in profit from us. I honestly wouldn’t mind better eBooks that aren’t just straight copies of the printed version for instance. I have bought the majority of the Garfield books outside of the regular strips too. I know that doesn’t work with comics based on one huge storyline, but it would work for some. I’d probably buy a few games too as long as they’re good (and you’d probably reach new audiences through a medium like that).

Think outside the three panel for once!

Austin, Texas – May 2014

The last time I went to the capital was around 2004. I still have my negatives from my Canon T70 that I’ll have to scan in someday. It used to be much easier to see from the freeway, but not so much now that there continues to be more and more buildings built around it.

This time around I focused on the actual building. There are lots and lots of portraits, charts, and statues that are interesting from a knowledge point-of-view, but don’t make great photography.

View from the Capital – A picture I took of the capital, with an overlay of the view out a window on one of the floors.

The second photo is the original shot of the capital:

“Computing isn’t about technology, in the same way that books are not about paper and ink.”

Said someone on an Apple related message board thread. No one understood what was being said, so it got deleted. But I get it, and completely agree. He’s posted it again, yet people still aren’t getting it.

I’ve been using computers for 23 years now, and I was exposed to graphic programs, home modeling tools, and finance managers like Quicken. Of course I got to see the silly stuff like Microsoft Bob too. And because I saw those programs, I was able to appreciate the computer as a tool, and not just the front door to the internet. I spent a lot of time using Adobe’s PhotoDeluxe, then Jasc’s Paint Shop Pro, which ultimately lead me into the full-blown Adobe Creative Suite.

I also now manually manage my spending in a mobile app, and use Evernote pretty much everyday (In fact I was user number 183,587 and now they have over 100 million as of last week).

… And considering I render animation, it’s surprising how I haven’t had the need to upgrade to a quad core processor machine.

… No it isn’t, because spending an extra $2,000 to go that route isn’t beneficial to me at this point. I know the system requirements needed to do the stuff that I do use my machines for, and they are not that crazy. Modeling is not the part that pushes your GPU the most, it’s the compiling that does.

Limitations push you to think differently, and not about just tech, but everything in general. Finding solutions and workarounds are better than just giving in and buying the “better” product. If you let yourself do that, you’re never going to be happy with anything.

And a lot of people who do buy into technical specs are never happy. They don’t get that a quad core processor doesn’t make better software. It won’t make Netflix buffer any faster. It doesn’t make any gameplay any better than it would on a previous generation device. Most people find that a lot of games aren’t even optimized for these devices to begin with.

They also find that a lot of these devices actually lag more.

Why did you want a quad core processor again?

Books are to be read more than they’re to be appreciated for the type of binding, paper, and ink used. As they always say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Likewise, don’t judge a device based on specifications alone, and actually take into account what you’re actually using your phone to begin with. Sometimes it’s better to keep what you already have.

Goodbye Flickr

Today's 3.0 update of the Flickr app made me realize that the Flickr of old is history. What was once the perfect place to host your portfolio, keep it organized, and join like-minded photographers, has now become the next Instagram.

Photography is meant to be what a painting or written description could never be, fact. It is supposed to be beautiful in its own merit. Filters serve a purpose, and we shouldn't be pushed to use them for anything and everything.

I am working on moving my portfolio over to my domain, and will soon delete my photostream. I initially thought about going the SmugMug route, but I do photography as a hobby, and their prices are a bit high for showcasing purposes. Plus, it will allow me to add my other creative work alongside it.

Dear Writers, I don’t want to read your book

When I was a kid, some girl was disgusted because I had checked out a book from the school''s library about baby animals. On the cover, there was a little baby bird that had just hatched from an egg. Harmless right? Well, in cartoon form yes, but this was a real photograph, and this girl in question didn't seem to get that it was just nature and that''s how it is.

That girl's reaction caused me to be very careful in choosing what books to read in public. I have to buy a lot of the music I like in digital format for the same reasons, some of my favorite albums and EPs have awkward covers that would bother a lot of people.

Having a Kindle has been a lot easier for me. It's really hard to get my dad to take me into the library these days, he doesn't think I should be "wasting my time" reading. I also haven''t got a paper cut in years, which put me off reading for the most part because I'd get them every other page. But most of all? I have freedom to read whatever I want without people judging me.

And I think that many others would feel the same way, and it''s probably why there''s so much erotic fiction in the top 100 in the Kindle Store.

Please don''t push your religion into our faces.

So I brought up that story to make a point, and it''s that many of us who choose to use a Kindle, and read digital books, choose to do so because it takes out the judgement that people have whenever they see us reading something that doesn't seem right to them. We can read our favorite genres, memoirs, biographies, etc. without someone butting in to say how they disapprove of it.

As someone who has a lot of helpful votes at Amazon, I get a lot of writers asking me to review their books. I really don''t have a problem with that, I enjoy looking at other people's work. However, give me another genre besides religion! If I wanted to hear the stories of God, I would have gone to church, and not buy an e-book that tells me all about them.

I'm tired of this motivational nonsense, I want humor, I want a mystery, I want a nice read that doesn't point out my flaws as a human being and "inspires to change oneself". I've already made changes in my life that have made me a better person, and I didn't need a book to tell me that.

Your book is exactly the thing that people who shop for e-books are trying to avoid. It is something that a girl that I once knew in elementary school would have given me, and in fact on the last day of school, she did recommend me a book like that, and the title of it is stuck in my yearbook forever and ever.

So unless you have something worthy of being read, that isn''t related to religion, please don't write to me. I have enough of God being preached to me, I'd like to not have him on my shoulders 24/7, which would be the case if I had to review all the requests I get.