The Daily TSP: September 30th [Tech, Sports, Podcasts]

Tech

Marques Brownlee (MKBHD – YouTube) Gives His First Thoughts on the New Nexus Phones

Marques Brownlee has emerged as one of the best commentators on tech and excels at talking about phones, especially.  In this video, he is discussing the two phones announced by Google today: the Nexus 6P, and the Nexus 5X.  I really love what Google is doing with these phones, and I think that they are improving with this lineup every year.  Small things like putting the fingerprint sensor in the back of the phone where our finger rests most of the time anyway are wacky as hell, but also really cool.  Android as a mobile operating system is fantastic, and the fact that the Nexus devices get updates right away [this is the single biggest issue for me on the Android platform] makes this a compelling product, especially at that price.  I hope to get my hands on these to play with!

Sports

Ben Rosales (Silver Screen and Roll) Breaks Down the Lakers Roster

It’s important throughout this process to remember that this is still a chiefly developmental season for the Lakers. While the team can’t actively tank to keep their pick — even having the worst overall record in the league, something they couldn’t accomplish the previous two years with rosters worse than the one currently assembled, would only give them a 64.3 percent chance of keeping their pick — neither is the team remotely close enough to making the playoffs such that they could justify sacrificing valuable playing time for their now well-defined young core in favor of veterans.

Ben Rosales is my consistent go-to for talent evaluation especially when it comes to the younger players.  I don’t follow college basketball, which makes the work that Ben does especially around draft time incredibly valuable to me.  In this piece, he does a great job of breaking down the roster to determine which players should theoretically make the cut.  Mitch Kupchak and co. have done a really good job adding young depth to the team and I’m excited to see how camp plays out.

Podcast

Doug Loves Movies: Jon Hamm, Kumail Nanjiani and Max Landis Guest [Posted September 23rd; Length: 93 minutes]

Doug Benson hosts a great podcast in which he and his comedian and/or actor friends play movie-based games. Doug is the perfect host to set the table and allow the guests to have fun while also keeping the show chugging along at a great pace comedically. You don’t have to really be a movie buff to enjoy this podcast, Kumail and Jon Hamm [Yes, THAT Jon Hamm] absolutely kill and were hilarious throughout. Recommend this episode, and this podcast as a whole, to anybody with even the slightest of interest in movies.

Daily TSP: September 29th [Tech, Sports, Podcasts]

Good morning! Lakers-centric sports section today, with a great iPhone review and a podcast recommendation. Thank you as always for taking the time to read.

Tech

Jason Snell (for Macworld) Reviews the iPhone 6S & 6S Plus

Yes, the “s” models look more or less like their predecessors, but for quite a while Apple has used these cycles to upgrade a lot of the stuff on the inside. This year is no different: The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus offer some major improvements, with better cameras (front and back), much faster processors, more responsive Touch ID, and the single biggest improvement to the iPhone’s user interface in its history.

iPhone reviews bring the best out of the tech writers online, and this year has been no different.  Jason Snell’s general takes on Apple products are spot on, and I found this one no different.  I myself was fortunate enough to buy the iPhone 6S Plus (64 gb, Space Gray) and have been using it since Friday. Some general thoughts:

  • This thing is fast. It’s really noticeable beginning from the faster Touch ID sensor that is so fast that I don’t even know what my lock screen picture is anymore.
  • The iPhone has always had a great camera, but this year’s “selfie” camera and video recording took HUGE steps up.  I normally don’t take selfies, but I went outside in the dark and was shocked at how nicely the selfie came out, utilizing the screen itself as a substitution for true flash.  In addition, 4K videos are remarkably crisp and the optical image stabilization built into the 6S Plus make for a great experience.  I’ve enjoyed just taking videos, pausing them, and zooming into small portions of the video and being amazed at the level of detail that is present.
  • 3D Touch is a good feature that will simply be great in the 6 months to one year it will take developers to fully integrate it to their apps.  I worried when Apple announced the feature that I will either accidentally trigger it or have a difficult time activating it when I want to use it.  Thankfully, neither of those issues have occurred.  One tiny suggestion: it would be helpful if Apple had some kind of visual way (maybe some small mark on the icon?) to let the user know if a specific application has it enabled or not.  I find myself 3D touching every app on my home screen just to see if it works.

Overall, I’m loving the phone. Please read the review!

Sports

Baxter Holmes (ESPN.com) talks to Kobe Bryant about the Lakers

When asked if he envisions his role changing, Bryant said, “Probably. It’s hard. I don’t know what to expect. My philosophy has always been, whatever you are asked to do, try to be the best at doing it. Whatever the role, you’ve got to figure it out. Whatever it is, try to do it to the best of your ability.”

With so many key young players that the Lakers must develop into the potential future core of the franchise, does Bryant now become more of a teacher and facilitator than their top option?

“I’m not really sure what that stuff means, honestly,” Bryant said. “I think a lot of that stuff is media conversation or debatable content. The reality is, we’re all mentors, we’re all teachers in our own respects. Whether that means scoring a lot more or assisting a lot more — whatever the case may be — depends on the identity that the team takes on. It’s my responsibility to plug in those holes where we’re lacking.”

This is just the fan in me talking, but I am so excited for the Lakers this season.  Look, there will be games where Kobe is upset that the young guys aren’t stepping up and he’ll take matters into his own hands when he should be more patient.  At the same time, I think that the roster is built full of guys who are confident in their ability and will be able to play with him just fine.  The veterans the Lakers have added like Roy Hibbert and Brandon Bass will assist Kobe in setting the tone of professionalism this season, Jordan Clarkson is a young and very confident guard who has already been around Kobe, and D’Angelo Russell has the kind of edge that Kobe can appreciate.  We’ve been hearing the right things from the coaching staff, as skeptical as I remain, and although this team will not be a playoff team, I’m just glad this won’t be another lost season.  Lastly, if this is indeed Kobe’s last year, I hope he goes out on his own 2 feet, healthy, and doing Kobe things on the court.

Podcast

Exponent: Episode 053 – Connect the Dots [Posted September 27th; Length: 68 minutes]

Another great installment of one of my favorite podcasts hosted by Stratechery’s Ben Thompson and Harvard Business Review’s James Allworth.  This one started off talking about Volkswagen’s emissions fraud, but it took a strange and interesting detour into a discussion about life decisions that somehow connected really well with their final topic about the Apple Watch.  Ben and James not only have a really interesting professional perspective, but a really diverse personal background that lend itself to really insightful talks.  Thanks for another great episode!

The Daily Teaspoon: September 24th [Tech, Sports, Podcast]

Tech:

Vlad Savov (The Verge) on the “Apple Bias”

The funny thing is that everyone’s right. Readers are right to claim that the iPhone is treated differently from other smartphones, and reviewers are correct in doing so. Apple makes more in quarterly profit than many of its mobile competitors are worth, and the success and failure of its smartphone plays a large role in shaping the fate of multiple related industries. The iPhone is reviewed like a transcendental entity that’s more than just the sum of its metal, plastic, and silicon parts, because that’s what it is.

Interesting read from somebody who’s on the reviewer side of technology.

Dan Moren (Six Colors) on His Apple Watch Usage 5 Months In

In practice, I use almost none of them. Sending sketches fell by the wayside a couple weeks in. I take the occasional phone call, but doing so on the Watch is almost never the best experience. Siri generally takes a couple tries to respond, so I end up using my iPhone, or, well, Alexa. Most of the apps are too slow and too limited to be of significant benefit to me. I vastly slimmed down my number of Glances, both because having a huge number of them was practically unusable and because most of them took too long to be useful. (I may have to revisit both apps and Glances under watchOS 2 to see if they deliver on promised performance improvements.)

Dan’s experience with the Apple Watch staggeringly matches mine, almost line for line.  Dan specifically mentions that this piece isn’t meant to be disparaging, and I agree.  It’s just the reality of a very new platform and a very new product category.   I love my Watch, and I wear it every day from the time I get up to the time I go to sleep.   The only specific difference between Dan’s experience and mine is that I LOVE everything about the fitness including the lack of social features.  As a person who’s been severely out of shape for my entire life, having a device like the Watch constantly tracking my activity without any social pressure at all has made a gigantic difference in my health and by extension, my life.

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The Blueprint 2: Free Agency and the Lakers

Ever since Dwight Howard left the Lakers, I’ve been generally an advocate of the “keep your books empty, and sign a couple of max players together” strategy that it seemed like Mitch Kupchak and Jim Buss were going for.  Signing players to 1 or 2 year deals that wouldn’t put a dent in the Laker books while simply waiting for the “big splash” made sense.  The Lakers are the Lakers after all, they’re located in Los Angeles. What could go wrong?

Well, the strategy simply hasn’t worked.  Carmelo didn’t want to sign here last summer, LaMarcus Aldridge (the only “splash” worthy player who changed teams) never really took the Lakers seriously, and Kevin Love didn’t even give the Lakers a meeting.

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