Read. Think. Write. Repeat.

Sunday Selection 2021-09-26

The Scholars of Night, by John M. Ford

I’ve been a science fiction buff since I was child, growing up on classic writers like Heinlein and Asimov (yes, I’m excited about the Foundation TV series, no, I’m not getting Apple TV just to watch it). But I admit this was the first time I ever heard of John M. Ford, even though he seems to be highly regarded by some of my contemporary favorites like Neil Gaiman, Charlie Stross and Cory Doctorow. It seems like most of his literary works have been in legal limbo for the last few decades, but new editions of his writing are being released. Doctorow’s brief blurb about Scholars of Night sounds very interesting and makes me want to read the rest of his work.

Having Too Much or Too Little Free Time is Linked to Lower Subjective Well-being

I found this paper via Cal Newport on the source of the desire to be productive. As the title suggests, both having too much and too little time results in people reporting lower levels of well-being. So the possibly multi-million-dollar question: how much free time is “just right”? The answer seems to be a little more than two hours a day, but less than five hours. Of course, the definition of “free time” is complicated, and there are a number of complicating factors, as the paper explores in detail. This adds some fuel to a pet theory I’ve been developing: the term “productivity” is overloaded and we really should be using more fine-grained terms for the different kinds of activities we’re talking about.

Understanding ProRAW

With new iPhones just released, this seems like a good time to talk about a feature Apple announced with their previous round of iPhones: ProRAW, a new format for digital images that combines raw data from the camera’s sensor, with some of the computational smarts that Apple has been hard at work on. Even if you have only a passing interest in photography, computational or otherwise, this is a very interesting read.

Two perspectives on the designer who Steve Jobs couldn’t hire

Coming back full circle to giants in their fields who are relatively unknown, this article talks about Richard Sapper, a contemporary of Dieter Rams. Sapper is the designer of (among other things) the IBM ThinkPad 701 and the Alessi 9090 espresso machine. Though I’ve heard of both of those things before, Sapper was unknown to me. This article covers a number of his creations, his design philosophy and contains pointers to documentaries and books about him.