A Future For Print… ?

Saying that print media is in trouble is stating the blindingly obvious. The consensus is that, somewhere down the line, print might even disappear altogether. Everything will be tablets, foldable screens and 15th generation color movie capable e-ink screens.

I’m not so sure. Yes, print used for news propagation is probably dead; the Internet just does that better. But there’s still something deeply attractive about a sheet of paper, a carefully laid out page, or a beautifully printed picture.
And I think there might be a place for that, even in our digital future.

If it survives, print will have to evolve of course. One way would be products with a strong identity. Something that will be significantly more engaging than what we have today. Something that will be about the audience as much as it will be about the content. Magazines can offer a niche product that serves its readers’ pride and intelligence, almost as an identity and fashion statement.

I’ve come across a few examples:

  • The Gentlewoman is a high end fashion magazine. My fiancée describes it as “fashion for adults”. Clever, beautiful, and serious, as opposed to the teen pop soup we’re served elsewhere. Fashion as a well thought out subject matter, for grown ups who actually know how to read.
    The same goes for Fantastic Man, its male counterpart.
  • The Art of Eating is a bit less sophisticated, but covers the same basis: offering an engaging and authentically passionate product to a core audience, who won’t find this kind of thing in mainstream media and would still love to have a physical representation of the thing they love and who they are.
  • The Verge is actually what got me thinking about this whole thing. When Topolsky, Patel, Miller and the team at Vox Media started it, no one really thought something different could be done in that space. But their approach was bold, colorful, beautiful, visual and above all intelligent and authentic.
    A few weeks ago, I realized this was the first site I would actually consider paying for. Then, thinking about this article I wanted to write, I realized I would actually love to have something like that, in print form.
    And then I read an article saying it wouldn’t be out of the question. That article is now down for some reason, but here’s the Techmeme link.

The Age of the Grown Up Geek

There is such a thing as a “grown up geek”. Adolescent at heart, playful and a bit foul mouthed, but highly intelligent and analytical. And usually better informed and knowledgeable in their field than “serious” journalists from newspaper or TV outlets. Topolsky is one example, there are many others.

These individuals have often been dismissed by established industries because of this deceptive exterior. But things have been changing, as these geeks have been growing up and showing that they’re actually regular people, some of them brilliant. People don’t need a suit to be intelligent, and these guys are doing fine in a world of t-shirts. It took a while, but we’re getting there.

There’s something of an identity element in there too: the “grown up geek” is relatable and authentic. They are “real people” who talk and act like real people. And they’re also excellent at their job. So we would probably follow them a bit farther than we would a guy in a tie that doesn’t understand us (or what he’s saying).

My point is this: print is currently run by guys in ties, trying to reach a wide audience. I think there’s a place for guys in t-shirts, trying to reach their peers.


March 16th, 2013 | 2 Comments

I Want Power Nap in Everything

Yes, I’d like to be able to power nap as well, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

Ok, this one ranks pretty high in the “first world problems” category, but many of us now have five or six “devices” in our homes: desktop, laptop, phone, tablet, a couple of consoles… And every other day, we get update notifications on one or more of those. Worse, if we turn one on after a couple of weeks, STOP EVERYTHING, THERE’S AN IMPORTANT UPDATE!

I’m kind of OCD with these things. I just have to do the updates as soon as they show up. I almost envy those of you who are able let the counter badge rank up into the double digits. I think that would kill me. Literally. Brain explosion.

So basically, apps and system updates are becoming sort of a plague for me. And for other also, I’m guessing. A few months ago, Apple came up with a clever (and obvious) auto update feature for their newest laptop: close the lid, it goes into “Power Nap” sleep mode. It’s a “low power connected state” where it’s basically off, but still downloads and installs the updates on its own. This connected standby concept isn’t new, and I had been hoping for something like this to come along for ages, but for some ungodly reason it hasn’t been implemented widely before.

This might change soon though: Sony has implemented it in its upcoming PS4, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Microsoft did the same in the next Xbox. But let’s not stop there: Apple will certainly implement the feature in all their new computers, and likely iOS as well at some point (iOS 7?). From there, it’ll become widespread enough that it will be a de facto standard feature, and others will have to implement it as well.
And as I was saying, I’m starting to hate updating so much, I want it in everything: phones, tablets, consoles, desktops (including all “app store” like installed software), set top boxes, watches, glasses, frying pans, shoes… Ok maybe not the last two. Yet.

Is that too much to ask for? No? I didn’t think so. Thank you, tech industry.

March 2nd, 2013 | 6 Comments

Yet Another Thing Apple Needs To Get Better At

I believe there are three areas in which Apple is falling behind in the software space.

Two are widely acknowledged : The Internet, and UI design.
Most people agree that iCloud is “better” than the company’s previous efforts, but most people will say in the same breath that that’s not saying much. And it seems everyone on the planet has written about the sin of skeumorphism (and that twice as many people are praying for Jony Ive to fix it). So let’s not dwell on those.

The third one, in my opinion, is the incredible sluggishness of their software.

This is the elephant in the room. Everyone knows it, everyone feels it, and everyone is sick of it, but we’re so accustomed to it that nobody seems to think twice about it. Yet on every platform, it seems that speed and efficiency are not even a concern. In a world where Google puts all their energy in shaving off every milliseconds they can everywhere they can, sluggishness doesn’t sit well anymore.

Let’s take a look:

  • On Windows, without even mentioning iTunes, we can compare Safari to Chrome. Same platform, same basic Webkit. But Safari is a blind, lame dog. Everything runs slower.
  • In iOS, most Apple apps run fine, but anything on the App or iTunes store feels slow and sluggish. I don’t care about the reason, it’s just frustrating.
  • In MacOS, it seems like any time I do anything, I get the spinning beach ball of doom. It is so incredibly annoying, I want to murder that beachball and turn it into a zombie just so I can murder it again.
  • On the web, we tolerate iCloud, but loading times are just atrocious. I could pile on, but I won’t, you get the idea.


February 1st, 2013 | 9 Comments

My favorite albums of the 2000s

[EDIT Jan 29] I’m really liking Rdio; it feels like a better Spotify… Better social, great web version, and collection management!(!!) So I made a playlist for this article. 🙂

Regular people (like renown music critics, famed websites and legendary rock magazines), they do their decade top ten right as the decade ends. That’s kind of silly though, because you’re to close to the events to judge them properly. Right? Right??

So anyway, it’s 2013 and I’ve decided to do a list of my favorite albums of the previous decade. No reason, just because. Please note that these aren’t the “best albums” of the 2000s, just my personal favorites. I’ve also made two completely arbitrary categories (Heart and Punch), because they felt right.


— Heart —

The Postal Service – Give Up

This is probably the album that I’ve spent the most time trying to get people to listen to. It’s a magical mix of electronica and emo explosion, which inexplicably works. I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite album of the decade, period.

The Weakerthans – Left and Leaving

There are no words to describe how much I love The Weakerthans. The best way I can explain it is that their music creates a sort of wonderful melancholy for places you’ve never been. Stephen Carroll’s vocals will seem rocky at first, but pretty soon they’ll turn into a warming guide that you won’t want to quite.

Stars – Up in Our Bedroom After the War

Another Canadian band (in case you didn’t know, the Canadian indie scene is amazing). Stars are a bit more “syrupy” maybe, but just as enjoyable. Some tracks I’ve listened to on repeat for days, never getting bored of them (Calendar Girl, Personal). And then of course there’s the cryptically captivating quote at the beginning of this album, which you’ll remember it forever.


January 22nd, 2013 | 4 Comments

What being a hacker means

aaron swartz quoteUntil Aaron Swartz committed suicide, I didn’t really know what he was about. But with the outpouring of emotion his death provoked, I read numerous articles on what he did and what he stood for. I’m sure you’ve read many yourselves, so I won’t elaborate.

One thing has touched me more personally though. I read this article on the EFF website, which included the image and the quote on the right : “Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. I think a lot of what people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity”. What a wonderful thing to say… I really think he has a point; not only is curiosity something we should foster and encourage, but it also breeds something we sorely needs, as a society: intelligence itself.

I posted the image on Google+, and got a comment by Rémi Pannequin:“This just exactly sum up the hacker philosophy”. He is so right. Rémi reminded me something I had forgotten, because of age maybe, as my own days of Amiga enthusiasm are far behind me, or maybe because of the constant badgering of people who only advocate in absolutes… Whatever the cause, the term “hacker” has become so associated with piracy and cyber crime that we are starting to forget what pushes people to hack, and try new and different things just to see what happens.


January 18th, 2013 | 4 Comments

Explaining Windows 8 to Your Parents

Here’s what I believe is the easiest way to explain Windows 8 to non tech savvy people. In this order, everything becomes clear. And yes, I am aware of the irony.

The basics:

  • Windows 7 is like a Mac
    It is a traditional desktop computer.
  • An iPad is a different kind of computer
    Lighter and easier to use, but it cannot run Mac desktop applications.
The new stuff:
  • Windows 8 comes in two versions: Windows RT and Windows 8 Pro.
  • Windows RT is like an iPad
    A tablet computer: it doesn’t run your old Windows 7 desktop applications.
  • Windows 8 Pro is like a Mac… which could also run iPad apps
    Runs Windows 7 style desktop applications AND Windows RT tablet style applications.

That’s it really, you can stop reading here. The rest of the article is just tech and marketing ramblings that I wanted to get out of my system. Enjoy explaining Windows 8 to your parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and confused colleagues!


October 31st, 2012 | 5 Comments

Something’s gotta give…

Dear all,

I’ve written this message two or three times already, so I’ll keep it short and as pain-free as possible. If you want to know more, I’ve included parts from the relevant emails below.

So here it is: The Movielicious and The Phileas Club are going on indeterminate hiatus, and likely won’t be coming back. I have loved and still love both shows (and the wonderful hosts) a whole damn much; one is some of the most fun I’ve ever had, and one is some of the most interesting discussions I’ve ever had. And I have loved and still love the communities that have formed around these “daring” endeavors even more. To all of you reading this; if I could kiss you right now, I honestly would. Like, full on. Even the guys. Just as an unwanted thank you.
But still, with many things to take into account, I have made the decision that I needed to take a breather somewhere, and that’s the only place I could find room. And hey, three and four years aren’t bad runs, right? We’ll always have the memories (some silly, some horrific, some fascinating), and if I ever find a way to bend the space-time continuum to get more hours out of a day, I’ll seriously consider resurrecting the shows. In the mean time, you’ll be able to find all episodes in RSS and iTunes form, hopefully forever.

There are two things this doesn’t mean though:
– It doesn’t mean this was a wanted or easy decision. Far from it. Tears might even have been shed, but it’s ok cause I’m French and love chick flicks anyway. Also, I said “maybe”, alright? “Maybe” means it’s not for sure. There might have not been any tears at all for all you know, so quit harassing me.
– It doesn’t mean I’m “retiring”. Probably the opposite in fact. First, I’m still doing my French shows (hey, a chance to learn a new language!), second I’m still happy to guest on any show that will have me (guesting is way easier than producing), and third, down the line it’ll hopefully give me more time to write blog articles, do videos, create silly one off things, etc.

So there you go; as promised, below is the long version. Hugs to all!


August 31st, 2012 | 32 Comments

The two most important features in iOS 6

Ok, so the next version of the iPhone and iPad iOS 6 was announced a few days ago at the WWDC keynote. It adds a few cool features to both the iPhone and the iPad, but here are the two features that I believe are really important:

FaceTime on cellular (and phone numbers)

This is a lot bigger than people realize. The important part of Facetime isn’t actually the video, it’s the fact that you can call someone without using your minutes. It didn’t matter much when it was only enabled on WiFi, but once it works on 3/4G as well, its full power will be unlocked: Facetime is an incredibly disruptive VoIP service.
Two reasons for that:
– Many people don’t know this, but you don’t have to use the video. Once you’re on a Facetime call, press the home button and it’s just… a call. No video. A ton more use cases, and a lot less bandwidth needed for spotty cell reception.
– You don’t need to build a friends list, or be connected to a specific service. If you can do Facetime, you just do it. And you can easily transform a “regular” call into a Facetime call, too: just press the “Facetime” button on the phone. This is the absolute genius of the system: it doesn’t need you to manage it, it just comes on top of the contact list you already have. Beautiful. Of course not everyone has an iPhone (or an iPad or Mac), but it can still severely cut down on minute costs, and take us one step closer to an all-data driven phone bill. (more…)

June 13th, 2012 | 3 Comments

What I’d Like To See In (the next version of) iCloud

The promise of iCloud is really cool: a full MacOS/iOS integrated syncing system. But the actual iCloud is… only ok. There are a lot of things still missing from the system, some of them critical. In this article, I’ll try to describe a few of the things that I’d like to see in its next evolution. It won’t be as long as the previous one about iOS 6, but I think I’m actually more excited about the changes discussed here… Let’s go:

  • Background syncing for documents and data
    iCloud-stored documents suffer an important flaw: they are only synced when the application is launched. This defeats half the purpose of syncing to local storage in the first place (a strong differentiator with Google’s approach), the problem being that if you don’t have an internet connection when you launch your app, you don’t have your document at all.
    So I’d like to see these documents downloaded to all devices the moment they’re updated or saved. Basically, the system should manage this syncing, not the application itself.
  • Web apps for iWork (and iLife, and more)
    This is another one I feel really makes the iCloud offering incomplete: the iCloud.com version of iWork barely allows downloading documents, and the only trace of iLife is the semi-hidden iPhoto journals repository. Also AWOL are Reminders and Notes.
    I believe the bare minimum would be for documents to be viewable on the web. Hopefully the closing of iWorks.com means its features (viewing, sharing, commenting) will be rolled into iCloud.com, but I would also like to see full galleries for iPhoto (events, faces, etc) and iMovie, as well as a Garageband “jukebox” for example. Being away from your own machine wouldn’t mean you’re completely cut off from your “stuff”, which is the whole point of iCloud. Heck, the welcome screen on iCloud.com is organized as a series of apps, so let’s get more apps! 🙂
    NB: Basic editing would be a nice bonus, but I could see Apple never going there (their idea is that your “devices” are the best place for your documents, not a web browser). (more…)
May 1st, 2012 | 3 Comments

What I’d Like To See In iOS 6

I won’t surprise anyone if I say I love my iDevices. I’ve tried many smartphones and tablets, and I keep coming back to Apple’s products, because the fit my mobile needs best.
“Best” isn’t “perfectly” though, and there are a few compromises I’d love to see revisited for the next version of the OS. Here’s my list:

  • Background downloading
    I understand why applications aren’t allowed to multitask. Battery life, security, yada yada, I agree with all that. But I’d love to get a way for applications to silently download content even if they’re not active; RSS feeds, podcasts, emails, etc. It could be limited in different ways: only when the device is plugged in, or only once an hour per app, or only for apps that have been used in the past week… Or all of the above. Bottom line is, batteries are probably good enough now that if Apple allowed for a limited version of background downloading (not background processing), it would be more of a benefit than an issue.
    It works with NewsStand, I think it should be expanded a bit beyond that.
  • Live icons
    By that I mean icons that can change to indicate different statuses. Again, it could be limited to preserve the aesthetics of the OS, and I’m sure Apple would check for every app that requests that Lordly privilege, but some apps could definitely use something like that: in some cases, having to launch an app just to get half a second worth of information is counter-productive, and there has to be a way to tackle that issue without compromising iOS’s advantages. I think. (more…)
April 5th, 2012 | 9 Comments