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8 Years of Apple

April 1st, 2016
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No, the title is not a mistake.

I know that today Apple celebrates 40 years since the day it was officially incorporated by the two Steve and the one Paul, but I wasn’t even close to be born back then. So instead of reliving the entire history of the fruity company, I thought it might have been fun to relive my personal history with the Cupertino brand.

The Trojan Horse

It all started with the second generation iPod Touch, not immediately after the release, but almost a year later, during my first year of Erasmus in Ireland. One of my friend was the first one I knew with an iPhone 3G. At the time I was already following everything that was happening in the Apple ecosystem, but very much as a spectator only. I still remember the keynote of the original iPhone and I was completely blew away by it. At the time I was rocking one of those HP Windows Phone that had to be used with a stylus because the keyboard and every other icons were ridiculously tiny. The iPhone was clearly the revolution.

The original iPhone never actually made in Italy (at least not in an easy way), so I could only dream about it. Its successor, the iPhone 3G was the first model that became ubiquitous in Europe1, and became for me a sort of obsession. At the time I wasn’t in a position to afford it, so I went for the second best thing I could buy: the iPod Touch.

Since the moment I took it out of the box I was completely sold. I had opened the doors to the Apple Trojan horse and I knew there wasn’t going to be an easy way back. That iPod also served for me as the first introduction to the world of jailbreaking and all the wonders and new functions you were able to add to a limited device. I clearly remember the pain related to having to do everything through my HP laptop (more on that later), but I soldiered on, because the reward meant I got to play with an awesome portable device.

The more I kept using the iPod Touch, the more I kept fantasising about owing an iPhone. Still, I wasn’t in a position to afford one.

Going full circle

The Christmas of that year my awesome parents made me a great gift, in the form of my first MacBook. It was the unibody white plastic MacBook. What a joyful machine. Light years ahead of my two years old HP juggernaut. With that machine, I was for the first time fully invested in the Apple ecosystem and that’s when you realise how things work much better when they are under the same roof. Or in this case, they both have the same apple on the back.

It’s now summer 2009 and the iPhone 3GS just went on the market and the iPhone 3G, got a price reduction. At the time I was living in Brussels and with my first pay check I sized the opportunity: I sold my iPod Touch and I bought myself an iPhone 3G, 8GB(!). It was the middle of the summer but for me it was like Christmas again. I vividly remember the day the phone arrived because it had been brought to me by a friend that came to visit from Italy. A quick hug to greet him and then it was all business putting on charge my new toy.

Never looking back

After the iPhone 3G, I became kind of obsessed with the iPhone. Because I was already a year late to the cycle, I skipped the iPhone 3GS and went straight to the iPhone 4. This was also my first all-night queue at an Apple Store. At that time we still didn’t have an Apple Store in my town Turin, so we two other friends we went on a trip to the closest store in Milan2. That night was great. I met lots of other Apple fans and we had so much fun waiting in queue, playing board games, drinking beer and just discussing on all the different reasons that brought us there. The common denominator was definitely the passion toward the company, but also the pure love for an amazing technology that still to this day doesn’t fail to impress.

The iPhone 4 was particularly exciting for me, because it was the first iPhone that I bought in time and so I was fully synced with the Apple software schedule. One thing that I remember of the iPhone 3G is that it became very quickly much slower with the new iOS releases, so much so that jailbreaking was at the time the only way to actually use the device.

The iPhone 4 never became my favourite design-wise. The materials were great, but it always felt very sharp in the hand and never was a very comfortable device for me.

The year after I decided I wanted the iPhone 4S on Day 1. Remember that Italy is never included in the first release wave, so the iPhone 4 was a Day 1, but only for the second way. This time the, I went with a friend to the Apple Store in Nice, France, which is a country always included in Apple first wave. There, I finally got my Day 1-1! Again, a very very enjoyable time, excluded for the moment a random group of forty Russians invaded the queue, disrupting the order we kept all night. In the end we all got our brand new shiny iPhones, so it was still ok.

All The Screens

While keeping myself busy with the iPhone business I obviously kept my eyes open in regards of all the other product lines. In particular just around this time my White MacBook was really struggling to keep up and that’s what prompt me to switch to a MacBook Pro, specifically the first generation with a Retina Display. This thing looked and still looks amazing. Not being able to see the pixels on the screen, made the display stand out from a millions miles away. It’s a joy operating such device and still today it remains a beautiful machine.

Also of course, an iPad made its way into my life. The first one was the iPad 2, which quickly was replaced by the first iPad Mini as at the time it didn’t make sense to me why you would want to have such a big device3. The iPad initially for me was more like an impulse purchase rather than a real necessity. I ended up using it for some web browsing, occasional gaming and not much else. Also, the iPad was still very much a new concept and the software (both the iOS and the third-party apps) was still in its infancy and very much just a bigger iPhone.

One More Row

The year after was the year of the iPhone 5, the first model with a bigger, actually just taller, screen; giving us one more row of icons on the Home Screen. It was September 2012 and in the meant rim I had moved to the UK, a country that again is always included in the first wave of release by Apple. This time no queueing outside, just a painful early morning online pre-order that guaranteed the delivery on Day 1. Less fun and rewarding, but so much more comfortable. This iPhone is also the only one that lasted for two years, since I’ve skipped the iPhone 5S. Touch ID alone didn’t seem enough of a reason to switch and I decided to wait and see what a completely new design was going to bring to the table.

That was also the period when, after the iPad Mini, I came back to the bigger brother as the first iPad Air was first introduced. It was more powerful and it had that beautiful Retina Display that I was missing so much on my Mini. That’s the iPad that stayed with me for the longest time, until last November.

We are now jumping to the end of 2014 when the iPhone 6/6+ made their first appearance. The design of the device was absolutely elegant and a decidedly step forward compared to any previous model. It was an insta-buy and despite the initial indecision, I ultimately went for the little brother and settled for the 6. Because again, why would you want such a big device in your pocket?4

The Most Personal Device

After the iPhone 6, the next big thing that Apple presented us with was the Apple Watch. Touted as the most personal device ever created by Apple, they released three different configurations of the device: same internals, but different cases, from Aluminium to Gold, passing through Steel.

By now you should know what happened. I bought myself an Apple Watch Sport.

This time it wasn’t a Day 1 purchase because I was very much on the fence regarding this device. I’ve always worn and loved mechanical watches. They are beautiful pieces of engineering and a precious object that can pass through generations within a family. I bought anyway. I had mixed feelings toward it since the first day and after a few months of daily usage it went back into a drawer and now it’s waiting in a box ready to be shipped to my buyer. I’m not say the Apple Watch is a bad device, I think the entire category still hasn’t found an appealing formula to actually make a smart watch and interesting proposition.

Go Big Or Go Home

And now we are finally getting to today, or better late last year, the year when I realised I had got it wrong since the very beginning. 2015 quickly became the year of bigger is better.

When the iPhone 6S was introduced, I took it as an excuse to update to the bigger 6S+. Phone-wise is the best decision I’ve ever made. The big screen is stunning and it allows me to do so much more than ever before. So much so that sometimes I find myself preferring it over any other device I own.

And then of course it was the year of the iPad Pro. Where should I start? To me the iPad Pro is the most transformative and disruptive device release by Apple in recent years. This truly is the future of computing, if not for the masses, definitely for me. Since I got it, I barely use my MacBook. And why would I do that? The Pro does everything the MacBook does, but it does it much better, faster and in a much more polished way. The iPad Pro also very much transformed the way I work in the office. It became the only device I take in meetings, an indispensable device to sketch, design flow charts and handle emails. I could use my iPad Pro for about the 80% of all my regular tasks and day after day I’m actively trying to push that percentage as high as I can.

What’s Next?

That’s always a good question to ask yourself. It has only been 8 years for me in the Apple world but they’ve certainly be very productive and packed years. I’ve loved every single device I’ve owned and I was always amazed by the new ones coming in. Every year I think to myself that there’s no way they can actually do better. And of course every year they do, leaving me stunned like a child in front of his first bicycle.


  1. To this day, the design of the iPhone 3G/3GS is by far my all-time favourite. 
  2. Turin and Milan are very close to each other, but at the time it still seemed like a crazy adventure. 
  3. Oh boy. 
  4. Oh boy x 2. 

The-Super-Flash-Girl

March 29th, 2016
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Last night we had the latest in a series on cross-over episodes in the CW universe of super heroes. This time it was The Flash invading the Earth protected by Supergirl (hence the amazing title of this post). I think it’s just fair to say that this has been the best super hero event in the DC universe in quite a long time.

And I’m not the only one that thinks that.

I especially like the title of IGN’s article about the episode: The Flash/Supergirl Crossover Is The Perfect Antitode To Batman V Superman. I’m saying this because that’s exactly how I felt after watching the TV show.

During the weekend I went to the cinema in order to watch what was supposed to be the biggest super hero movie of the year. Turns out they should’ve called it Boredom V Sleepiness, a title that would be much more representative, albeit a bit of a spoiler 😉

Anyway, back to Supergirl/Flash.

In these action-packed 40-something minutes, we get to see two completely stranger immediately get to know each other, bonding on what is making them special, being heroes. The Flash brings his two-season wisdom and teaches Supergirl how being part of a team is the best thing you can hope for in this or any other Earth. On the other hand Supergirl brings her positive attitude and joy and making look everything so simple when it’s really super hard and difficult.

They immediately complement each other, and it’s clear how the two actors clearly had so much fun while filming this episode. The interaction and the chemistry between the two characters was immediately palpable, since the first scene they come in contact. Much more than The Flash and The Arrow. These two are very much the opposite and they just barely keep each other in balance.

The Lady of Steel and the Red Scarlet are very much amplifying each other’s auras on screen, even though they are not really that great at fighting crime together. But that wasn’t the point of this epiosode in the first place.

This wasn’t at all about fighting crime together. This was all about the two heroes needing a way to recharging the positive battery, trying to restore the faith in humanity and the good that always was the distinguishing factor for them. Previous to this episode, both The Flash and Supergirl had to go through some really tough times and I believe this encounter was needed to turn the tide around.

I’m liking the approach that The CW is taking toward the DC Universe, and I really believe that Warner Bros. could learn1 a thing or two for their upcoming movies in the Expanded Universe.


  1. They probably won’t as they already announced that they’ll be using a different actor to portray The Flash on the big screen. 

Horace and Pete – My Views So Far…

March 21st, 2016

If you’re not a close follower of Louis C.K., you might have missed his latest creation. And I’m here to fix that.

On January 30th, out of the blue I’ve received an email from Louis C.K. as all the members of his mailing list did. It went like this:

Hi there.
Horace and Pete episode one is available for download. $5.
Go here to watch it.
We hope you like it.
Regards,
Louis

That’s it. Simple and direct to the point, pretty much in Louis style in recent years. No explanation of what Horace and Pete was, no premise or trailers. A very orthodox move in a world where we now have teasers of trailers for movies and TV shows coming out in a year time. Regarding this point, Louis had a good explanation on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

The following week we then got a bit more of information about this new web series:

Horace and Pete is a new show that I am producing, directing, writing, distributing and financing on my own. I have an amazing cast: Steve Buscemi, Edie Falco, Alan Alda, Jessica Lange, Aidy Bryant, Steven Wright, Kurt Metzger and other guest stars. Also Paul Simon wrote and performed the theme song which is beautiful.

The first that has to be mentioned here, is how wonderful the cast is. Steve Buscemi and especially Alan Alda are providing the show which such a level of intensity that will make you want to come back for more. In addition to that, the show will attract you because of his dark but always on the point tone. To fully enjoy Horace and Pete I believe you need to have a slightly darker sense of humour and you can’t be easily offended. As with almost everything that Louis CK does, this show has a firm grasp on reality, which is then presented to you without any filter.

When things are going good, the show is relaxed. When the “shit hits the fan”, the show enters a downward spiral of which you don’t see the end.

To me, this is by far the most interesting aspect of this show; there’s no false sense of security, you must be prepared to ride this rollercoaster of emotions that can turn you upside down at any given time.

The best example would be Episode 3. The episode opens with a fairly innocuous 10 minutes monologue from Laurie Metcalf (playing Sarah, Horace’s ex-wife). First of all, the quality of the execution of this monologue are stunning. Not many actors could hold a single camera on them with such a grace. Second, there’s the aforementioned safety net, slowly but surely disappearing from underneath the viewer. This monologue it’s a very good example in which she start telling a seemingly normal story, but then the expression on her face starts changing, and the voice starts breaking up and suddenly the viewer starts piecing all the parts together and you realize that you’re about to hear something very uncomfortable.

This very peculiar rhythm is what hooked me up on this show. Most of the TV shows out there have to please to a sizable audience if they want to stay on-the-air and so they have to play it safe. Being a web series, and being written/directed/produced by Louis CK and being basically crowdfunded, Horace and Pete has the freedom to explore the darker corner of human relationships, giving you the good and the bad on the same level, without any filters.

The set and filming technique used also have an immense influence on the feeling and the vibe of the show. It looks like live theater being recorded. And as Louis CK said in the above interview, they are playing like if they were on a theater stage, without an audience in front of them. Plus, there’s no laugh track and the music is only used to transition from a scene to another. Is a tangible clue that we are closing the curtain on something and once they re-open we’ll see something else. There’s even an Intermission black screen from time to time and the entire show seems it’s going to be divided into different acts all together.

I guess technically you could call it an hybrid between theater and television, populated by a list of flawed character, quickly evolving in front of our eyes.

In a way, if you were a fan of the TV show Louie, than you’ll find yourself almost at home. There are many common elements shared by the projects, but Horace and Pete delves deeper in the world of inter-personal relationships rather than presenting the entire world as viewed from the perspective of one single pair of eyes.

As there are no trailers or clips I can point you to, I can only leave you with the words of the show’s creator, to give you a final push toward buying the first episode of Horace and Pete:

Warning: this show is not a “comedy”. I dunno what it is. It can be funny. And also not. Both. I believe that “funny” works best in its natural habitat. Right in the jungle along with “awful”, “sad”, “confusing” and “nothing”. I just think it’s fair this one time to warn you since you have every right to expect a comedy from a comedian. I will not warn you again.

8/10

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Early Impressions)

December 22nd, 2015
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I cannot really guarantee a full spoiler-free piece, so only read this after you’ve seen the movie!

There’s been an Awakening. Have you felt it?

I’ve seen The Force Awakens three times by now, and I’m on my way to see it a fourth time. I’ve listened to the special episode of The Incomparable about it. I think it’s time for me to say a couple of things about it.

Let’s start with the basics. This IS a proper Star Wars movie. Forget all the nonsense of the prequels, all the politics and the trade commissions. With the Force Awakens we are going back to the root of what made the original Star Wars a global success: it’s funny, it’s clever and the chemistry between the characters is absolutely great.

Probably the best part of this movie is how well the new generation mixes and takes over from the old guard. Good guys and bad guys in the same way, we have an organic ensemble that actually works!

The Force Awakens also does a good job in bringing new and diverse role models for the new and younger generation of viewers. With Rey, we have a strong female lead who’s not afraid of all the challenges coming her way, actually she embraces them way better than her male counterpart Finn.

One of the major complaints that I heard related to this movie is its plot. I admit it. If you are looking for a new ground-braking, mind-blowing story, this movie will disappoint you. In my opinion this is actually a good thing. The job of the Force Awakens is to re-open a book that we closed after Return of The Jedi. It has to bring us back into a galaxy far far away. Its sense of familiarity is what makes this movie so appealing.

Having to introduce a full new cast was the job of this movie. Episodes VIII and IX will be the ones where the plot can advance to uncharted territories. For a 135 minutes movie there’s a lot to digest and not being distracted by the underlying story gives the viewer a chance to become familiar with old and new faces in a more intimate way.

But don’t worry, there’s much to enjoy plot-wise even if at first is seems so familiar.

One special mention has to go to Harrison Ford. His Han Solo character is the one that carries most of the film forward. I don’t know how, but he manages to be even funnier than in the original trilogy and in practice he’s the real bridge between old and new.

The Force Awakens reopens a lots of doors in the story of the Skywalker family and doesn’t close many of those, leaving room for the other two chapters in the story to explore the depth of conflict between the Light and the Dark Side of the Force.

Speaking of which, another mention goes to Adam Driver and his Kylo Ren character. He’s the bad guy, yes but it’s not at all what Darth Vader used to be. He’s his follower and his figure clearly draws inspiration from Vader, but his future doesn’t seem to be as clear as he would like it to be. Being an agent of chaos, but also feeling the call of the Light will make for a very interesting character development. We’ll see what happen once his training is finally complete.

All things considered, The Force Awakens is an example of why JJ Abrams is such a good director. In this movie there’s something for everyone. New fans, old fans and yes even for the haters! As a big fan of the original trilogy I felt right back when we left our heroes in the forest of Endor. I couldn’t have personally asked for much more from this movie and as I said before I can’t wait for 2017 to learn where our favourite Galaxy is heading toward.

May The Force Be With You.

9.5/10

Once again Randall Munroe is giving us a masterpiece in the form of the latest xkcd entry.

Make sure to check out Hoverboard and remember:

Looks to be small, however, when you realize that boundaries are made to be broken, A massive world opens up to be explored.

Via Boing Boing.

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The epic ending you never saw coming is here because you demanded it! The Dark Knight rises again to face the dawn of the master race!

Frank Miller is back. You don’t need to know anything else. Insta-buy.

As shared by Federico Viticci:

Fortunately, great things do happen in the third-party iOS ecosystem. Today’s update to Workflow (version 1.4.2) adds, among more actions, a brand new WordPress action to publish posts and pages to configured WordPress blogs (both wordpress.com and self-hosted ones) and which can be combined with any other existing action or workflow for deeper automaton.

This is simply amazing and something that I’ve been looking forward in a long time!

I’ve always admired and greatly appreciated the work done by the people at Workflow and this update just strenghten those feelings and makes my iPad Pro my go-to device.

SPECTRE

October 27th, 2015

Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned.

Last night I went to the cinema for the premiere of the latest James Bond movie: SPECTRE. I had mixed feelings going in, I came out with an even greater mix. Let me talk you through some of those mixes.

Since the beginning, SPECTRE was billed as the natural sequel of Skyfall and, in my opinion, the closing act for Daniel Craig as 0071. If you look at it under that light, it actually delivers something of a good closure.

In some ways SPECTRE also plays as a love letter to the Bond universe in more general terms. There are many elements from past movies which are brought together, with Sam Mendes squeezing the eye in our direction as a way of saying see what I’ve done there?!

The underlying story seems to be the biggest problem here. Because there isn’t one. It picks up the event of Skyfall, but it simply close those events, without moving the story forward again. This for me is another sing on Craig’s departure. Yes we get to see an new villain in Christoph Waltz’s Ernst Stavro Blofeld. But he’s not really new. It’s like Bond. A different face to fit under a common umbrella.

Speaking of the bad guy, rumours initially said that Blofeld wasn’t going to be Blofeld. Turns out that’s exactly who he is. Down to the scar and yes, of course, the white cat. If they can keep the right for the SPECTRE brand, they could probably keep using Waltz as a bridge from the “old” Bond to the “new” Bond2, giving us and the MI6 a common enemy to revive the 00 programme. They just need to give him a real long-term plan. In SPECTRE we get to know why Blofeld is obsessed with Bond, but we never get to know which is his end game, since the plan that he set in motion doesn’t really make any sense3. Also, the plan itself is vaguely reminiscent of Tomorrow Never Dies, which is probably not what you want to shoot for.

Since we are on the bad guys paragraph, it’s worth mentioning the other two baddies. Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx. Where have I seen this character before?…oh yes of course: hi Jaws! Big, bad, unstoppable, basically mute and a bit dumb. In SPECTRE his only word is “shit”, just before flying off a train. The impact on the movie: sub-zero cold.

But probably the award for the worst bad guy in a James Bond movie has to go to C. C is the head of the new global security order backed by Blofeld who tries his best to dismiss M,Q and Bond. Let’s play the game again: where have I seen this guy before?…I know: this is James Moriarty! C is played by Andrew Scott who in the BBC’ Sherlock plays Professor Moriarty. I really like this actor and the way in which he portrays the bad guy in Sherlock. The problem here is that C is exactly the same as Moriarty. There are no attempts at differentiating the two. I don’t know if this was a deliberate choice, but at least they could’ve changed the color of his suite and the style of his facial hair.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Bond movie without other two elements: cars and women. As you may imagine at this point, I have something to say about both.

Let’s start with cars. There are few. But they are beautiful. The new Bond ride is the incredible Aston Martin DB10. It is pure joy to the eye. Unfortunately, it’s not a car you’ll ever be able to buy, because it’s only a concept specifically designed for this movie. If you want to see the car in action outside the movie itself (it only does a very short cameo unfortunately), you should watch this video where Marek Reichman (Chief Creative Office of Aston Martin) stops by Jay Leno’s Garage to showcase the car. They go into the details of the car design and they also go out for a test drive. Lucky guy that Leno!

The other car is the equally amazing Jaguar C-X75. This car is driven by Mr. Hinx while he’s chasing James for the streets of Rome. Make sure to watch the behind the scene video to see how Williams Advanced Engineering did their magic to modify the car for the chase scene.

The action between the two cars is a good mix of beautifully crafted machines, heavenly noises and a bit of humor. It goes on for a while, probably a bit too much, but we are in a Bond movie and the cars are playing the co-protagonist role, so we need to let them breathe.

Now it’s time to talk about the most controversial part of the movie: women. For SPECTRE we have two very equally talented and beautiful women: the Italian Monica Bellucci and the French Léa Seydoux. I was very happy when I saw the cast announcement and I was even happier after the comments from Monica Bellucci where she clearly said that the two ladies were not going to play the stereotypical Bond-Girl part. To be fair the premises were there. Unfortunately they very quickly disappeared.

Monica Bellucci has a very limited time on screen. She plays the wife of one of SPECTRE’s top lieutenant (the one that gets killed in the opening scene). In the big picture of the plot she’s basically a bate that is used to lure Bond into Rome to first meet his nemesis. We see her at the funeral, we see her drinking poolside, ready to die. Bond buys her some time and give her some protection after she give away more information on where to find the SPECTRE gathering in Rome. Then? Sex. Then? Goodbye.

The encounter is classy. The setting is as mature as she is. We probably didn’t need the sex, but he’s Bond and we are in the first half an hour of the movie and we were lacking some action.

The sex that we definitely didn’t need is the one with Léa Seydoux.

She plays the distant daughter of another ex-member of SPECTRE, Mr. White. She starts as a very strong written character, capable of whit standing the seemingly un-resistible Bond-effect. She also half responsible for the death of Mr. Hinx by saving the day and saving Bond. With him out of the picture and still a long train journey ahead. What should we do now?. Sex is Bond answer. What should we do now?. That is probably the single dumbest and totally unnecessary line ever written for a female character ever. There was no need for that scene. They could’ve simply cut to them leaving the train (as they actually do after the red-light scene). It’s a complete giveaway and it also undermines the strength of her character. Luckily that’s the only close-encounter shown in the movie. Possibly the others are left to our imagination, helped by the good chemistry on screen, and the joint exit at the very end.

Nothing is lost fortunately, because in the end she will be the saviour of Bond’ soul, stopping his hand and seemingly freeing from a world of lies, violence and self-destruction.

I’m sure you’ll come out of the theatre with many questions in your head and hope for the future of this great big screen franchise as I did. I was happy I went to see SPECTRE. Despite all my complaints it does a good job in keeping the the Bond myth strong and alive for the future.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll have an ice cold Heineken.


  1. I know Daniel Craig was originally contracted for 5 movies and SPECTRE is only number 4, but there are plenty of sings of his possible departure from the character. 
  2. Bond will return is the message left at the end of the credits. 
  3. You can of course make some good assumptions, but at least Javier Bardem is Skyfall had a clear path ahead.