About a year ago, when talking about what/who I periodically read online, I wrote:
When it comes to the list of resources I check on a daily basis, in 2015 there have been more subtractions than additions. Nothing in particular triggered this clean-up and reorganisation of my RSS feeds, but in retrospect I can say that it was a consequence of different factors, including:
- The need to read more physical books and ‘offline stuff’;
- A perceived decrease in quality of a few resources I used to follow;
- More time devoted to my writing and the production of original content (fiction and non-fiction), leaving less time to keep up with the once-manageable reading list.
This trend persisted throughout 2016 as well, driving me to drop even more feeds, and to add very few new ones. Several blogs, and most tech news websites have been demoted to being checked every now and then, instead of having their updates delivered via feed subscription. The main reasons for such demotion are:
- For individual blogs — (a) Authors getting progressively focussed (read: obsessed) on specific subjects I don’t particularly care about. (b) Articles devolving into linked lists or podcast episode announcements, for podcasts I don’t even follow, so no interest there. © All of the above, in a couple of cases. (d) It’s a technicality, but I had to remove a couple of blogs whose authors, perhaps to boost the direct visits to their sites, decided to truncate their RSS feeds to a point that keeping them in my reader was useless. I can understand their reasons for choosing truncated feeds, but Christ, at least don’t also truncate the first article paragraph mid-sentence!
- For tech websites — Their sheer article output (hello Macworld, hello iMore). I was spending more time marking things as read than reading articles. This kind of feed management was becoming a chore, and not worth the time and the trouble.
I have occasionally listened to a few episodes of other podcasts. Worth mentioning are:
- Citizen Lit — A literary podcast hosted by Jim Warner. Discovered through the aforementioned Harry Marks.
- Too Embarrassed to Ask — Tech-oriented. Hosted by Kara Swisher of Recode and Lauren Goode of The Verge.
- Ctrl-Walt-Delete — Tech-oriented. Hosted by Walt Mossberg and Nilay Patel.
As I said, the list of new entries is rather short — only three new additions in 2016:
- Hey Cupertino — by Patrick Dean. It focusses mostly on reviews of iOS apps, but there are also other articles and general commentary. I really like Patrick’s review style: each review is detailed, well written, and accompanied by meaningful screenshots. One immediately notices how Patrick decides to review an app only after having extensively used it on his device. This means his reviews are generally less superficial, and his recommendations are always worth checking.
- Mac Kung Fu — by Keir Thomas. It’s mostly tips and tricks for Mac OS, iOS, Apple TV, Apple Watch, etc. Keir is a competent power user and writer. There’s always something to discover, even if you’re an experienced Mac or iOS user, and Keir often manages to surprise you. I think it’s worth adding Mac Kung Fu to your feeds. [Note: the website doesn’t load if you’re using some kind of ad blocker. Consider supporting Keir by whitelisting his site.]
- Revert to Saved — by Craig Grannell. Main subjects, as helpfully suggested by the masthead itself, are technology, Apple, gaming and design. What I love about Craig’s style is that it’s concise and to-the-point. He contributes regularly to other sites too, such as Stuff, MacFormat, TechRadar, Macworld UK and TapSmart. Like Patrick Dean above, Craig is also a great app reviewer.
Like 2015, 2016 was a great year photography-wise for me. My film camera collection expanded a bit more, thanks to a few more acquisitions but also gifts, and I’ve enjoyed shooting mostly film as usual. Still, I decided to get a DSLR too, for experimentation’s sake for the most part. Being on a relatively tight budget and not needing anything state-of-the-art, I opted for a vintage semi-professional Nikon body, the 11-year-old D200. Unsurprisingly, I’ve been using it with a film photographer’s approach, which in my case means shooting slowly and thoughtfully, using mostly manual focus prime lenses instead of favouring big AF zooms.
But I’m digressing.
When I was researching Nikon equipment (both digital and analogue), I found these places to be truly helpful:
- byThom Sites — Thom Hogan’s portal. Thom is a professional photographer and has written countless reviews and guide books on Nikon cameras and lenses. I’d trust his advice implicitly. I even contacted him directly a couple of times to ask for clarification and he responded with astounding promptness, considering how busy he must be on a regular basis.
- This database of Nikon lenses, maintained by Roland [I couldn’t find his last name anywhere, sorry], has been quite handy while looking for manual focus lenses on eBay, to check year of manufacture and other lens characteristics. Terrific resource.
- Nico Van Dijk’s Nikon site. It has nice photos and lots of interesting information.
- Through the F-Mount — by Jürgen Becker. The articles section features many lens reviews, tips & tricks, etc.
- Lens Survey and subjective evaluations — by professional nature photographer Bjørn Rørslett. This is a sub-section of the legacy naturfotograf.com site, which is now Nikon Gear. If you want to read detailed evaluations of many MF and AF Nikon lenses, you should definitely check the links at the bottom of the page. I chose to look for two specific lenses for my cameras thanks to this resource.
- Nikkor is an amazing resource (available in English and Japanese) if you’re interested in the history of Nikon lenses. I’ve enjoyed its The Thousand and One Nights section, a growing collection of historical chapters written by Haruo Sato and Kouichi Ohshita, each dedicated to a single lens, explaining its design and development.
If, instead, you’re researching manual focus Konica cameras, there’s basically one resource you ought to add to your bookmarks: Andreas Buhl’s Konica SLR System 1960–1987 website (in English and German).
Similarly, a reference website for all Pentacon/Praktica cameras is Mike’s Praktica Collection. It’s a bit of a labyrinth to navigate — and the 1990s look and feel doesn’t help — but it covers all Praktica models with detailed data sheets and information. Useful if, for instance, you want to know whether a particular Praktica model used to be powered by an old mercury battery or it accepts newer silver-oxide or alkaline button cells.
Then there are a few places I found while looking for information on different vintage film cameras, websites that are usually maintained by collectors and enthusiasts who also write brief reviews of their equipment. The following are worth a mention:
- The Camera Site — by Reijo Lauro
- Simon Hawketts’ Photo Blog. Detailed reviews and test photos of many vintage cameras (check the Camera Index page for a direct access to the reviews), not to mention various tips for camera repairs. You’ll find many reviews of Minolta, Miranda, Olympus, Pentax, Praktica and Ricoh cameras among others.
- The Favourite Cameras section of Gary Seronik’s Film Advance blog.
- I probably already mentioned this, but despite not being actively maintained anymore, I still find Alfred Klomp’s Camera Page an interesting read, especially with regard to Russian film cameras.
As for general photography blogs and suchlike, here are some special mentions:
- Silverbased — by Ross Orr. Ross doesn’t update it very often, but his blog is definitely a keeper for several interesting articles in its archives. Tips on which vintage cameras to search for and which to avoid, DIY solutions, etc. Do visit and explore.
- Dave Lawrence Photography — Dave is a friend and a terrific photographer. His personal photography blog is always an interesting read.
- Women and Dreams — by Ashley Pomeroy. This was a revelation, and a blog I actually added to my RSS feeds. I discovered Ashley Pomeroy through a mention on Lewis Collard’s site. I was instantly blown away by Ashley’s writing style and his photography. But calling his Women and Dreams a photography blog is rather limiting. As you’ll find out by reading a few posts, Ashley loves to digress, and many articles aren’t directly about photography at all. He may talk about music, cinema, or video games (his recent article on Half-Life 2 is astounding, by the way). A post that’s supposed to be a ‘Photoshop tutorial’ is actually… something else. Ashley is witty and quirky, and his style is something you either love or hate. I happen to love it. If you don’t care for his blog, you can find more of his photos on Flickr.
Finally, for quickly looking up information on cameras, a great resource has been Camera-Wiki.org. In my opinion it’s much better than Camerapedia, easier to navigate, especially because it’s not drowned in advertisements. If you find Camera Wiki useful as well, please consider making a donation to help it survive.
Addendum — If you’re into vintage film cameras or if you’re starting to explore the world of film photography just now and you’re looking for camera manuals, before getting ripped off by certain websites offering you a PDF download at a price (sometimes ridiculous prices, too), please stop by Camera Manual Library, by Mike Buktus. He has done a terrific work over the years and scanned dozens of camera manuals, and offers them as free downloadable PDF files (or you just can read them in the browser). If you find them useful, please support Mike by sending a donation.
A note about websites with ad-blocker blockers
I’m not against ads, and I understand that plenty of websites need them to stay afloat. That said, I also believe a lot of websites utterly disrespect their readers by not being very discriminating with the ads they choose to display (and their underlying technology). Thus, my current policy is to use ad blockers and anti-trackers (thanks Ad Block, Ghostery, uBlock Origin, and Better) and to occasionally whitelist sites and blogs showing ads in responsible (code-wise) and tasteful (display-wise) ways.
However, in recent times, an increasing number of big sites which usually employ plenty of intrusive ads, instead of working to ameliorate the issue, have decided to implement ‘ad-blocker blockers’; that is, if you visit them, and they detect you have installed an ad blocker in your browser, they won’t display their content. They will ask you to disable your ad blocker(s). Well, I will not do that. I will, instead, stop visiting your site altogether, and I’ll tell other people to do the same.
My RSS management
Unchanged from last year. To recap: on my main MacBook Pro I’m still using Reeder, while I keep older versions of NetNewsWire on my PowerPC Macs (version 3.2.15 under Mac OS X Leopard, and 3.1.7 under Mac OS X Tiger). On iOS, my RSS reader of choice is still Unread. Unread is also my absolute favourite iOS app with regard to gesture-based navigation. It’s really good and well-designed. A special mention goes to Feed Hawk by John Brayton, a very useful iOS tool to quickly add a website’s RSS feed to your reader of choice. My nano-review of Feed Hawk is here.
I think that’s all for 2016.
In reverse chronological order: