Japanese Work Culture is Toxic 📝

I enjoy living in Japan for the most part, but the one thing I can’t stand is the toxic work culture. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the toxicity of Japanese corporate culture even further, and it’s disgusting. I recently learned that my wife’s friend was peer-pressured into attending a company retreat.

These sorts of gatherings are fine during normal times, but to pressure employees into attending a retreat during a global pandemic is just moronic. At first, it was apparently supposed to be an optional onsen trip. However, after a few people in the company decided not to go, management made it non-optional (sounds like a power trip). Even worse, they changed the location from a local onsen to a distant location from Tokyo. So not only are employees required to attend, they also have to risk their lives on long-distance public transportation.

I just don’t get it. What’s the point? Is it really necessary for management to say “f*** you” to everyone, and make the retreat non-optional? Do they think employees are going to have a good time at this retreat? Probably not because they’ll be wondering if they contracted COVID-19 the whole time.

Seriously, what’s the point?

Man, Japanese work culture sucks.

My Static Site Publishing Workflow on Mobile 📝

Ever since I moved my blog from WordPress to Hugo, I’ve consistently worked on improving the experience of publishing new posts and editing old content. I write on three devices – MacBook Pro, iPad Pro, and iPhone. In terms of percentage breakdowns, I’d say 95% of my writing is done on my MacBook Pro and 5% on my iPad Pro. I only use my iPhone for small edits if I notice an issue or mistake when I’m not close to the computer.

My publishing workflow on my MacBook Pro is pretty straightforward. I write in Nova, and push updates to GitHub – maybe I’ll write more about that later this week. For my mobile publishing workflow, I use an iPhone and iPad app called Working Copy. It’s an extremely well designed Git client that includes a text editor. With Working Copy, I can pull the latest changes to my site anytime, update content, and commit the update to GitHub in a single app. After a change is committed, GitHub builds the site and uploads it to Cloudflare Workers Sites.

Editing content with Working Copy on iOS.
Editing content with Working Copy on iOS.

The only “downside” is I currently don’t have a way of uploading images from my iPhone or iPad. I say “downside” in quotes because I don’t really see it as a huge issue. All the images I upload to this site go through some kind of manipulation process on my MacBook Pro anyway – whether that be editing in Lightroom, trimming in Photoshop, etc. Since I started blogging, I’ve never felt the need to directly upload an image from my iPhone or iPad. If that need were to arise in the future, I could probably code something to make it happen.

I keep a backup of my Hugo project, including images, in DropBox, so perhaps some bot that monitors my images folder and copies newly-uploaded images to Google Cloud Storage (where I host images) could work. This way, I could just upload images using the DropBox app for iPhone and iPad.

Anyway, if you’re using a static site generator and thinking about ways to improve your publishing workflow, I’d recommend checking out Working Copy as soon as possible. It’s the best Git client on iOS by far, and it’s the perfect solution for writing and editing your static site content on the go.

Custom Domain Support in HEY for You 🔗

u/Ne1nLives:

We were originally promised EOY 2020 for custom domains. In fact, the webpage for custom domains still says ”by the end of 2020”. It looks like that might not be happening?

An interesting thread about custom domain support for “HEY for You” (HEY’s personal email product). In a recent AMA, Basecamp CEO Jason Fried discussed the status of custom domain support for “HEY for You” and “HEY for Work”. One tidbit I found interesting was that only HEY for Work requires pointing MX records, while HEY for You doesn’t. This suggests that custom domain support for HEY for You is actually email aliasing instead of custom domain support.

If this is the case, it’s very upsetting. HEY for Work is more expensive than HEY for You, which is already expensive at $99/year. I can’t think of a single technical reason why custom domain support can’t be provided for a $99/year email service when ProtonMail and FastMail can do it at a much lower price point. I understand that Basecamp, and HEY by extension, is driven by opinionated product design, but the idea that custom domains are only necessary for work (HEY for Work) is absurd. In 2020, domain names are integral to our identities, and an email address with a custom domain is extremely personal.

I sincerely hope full custom domain support isn’t an upsell strategy for HEY. In 2020, custom domain support should be included with every paid email service. Google has it, Microsoft has it, ProtonMail has it, Fastmail has it, MX Route has it, etc. It’ll be a shame if HEY for You only ships with email aliasing. The more I hear about people’s experiences with HEY (after using it for six months and canceling it myself), the more it sounds like everyone is paying top dollar to be beta testers.

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AirPods Max Now Delivering in March 2021 📝

Wow, it looks like there’s some real demand for AirPods Max. I just checked the delivery dates for the US market, and March 11-25 is the earliest estimate. In Japan, my pair of Sky Blue AirPods Max is scheduled for an early February delivery. I also placed orders at Yodobashi Camera and BIC Camera as backups.

AirPods Max won't be delivered until March 2021 in the USA.
Mid-March delivery estimates for AirPods Max.

Depending on how things go, I’ll either cancel the other two orders once one of them ships, or sell two of them to close friends at list price. One thing I definitely won’t be doing is trying to flip them on Mercari or eBay – I hate those people.

Chrome is Bad 🔗

Chrome is Bad:

Short story: Google Chrome installs something called Keystone on your computer, which nefariously hides itself from Activity Monitor and makes your whole computer slow even when Chrome isn’t running. Deleting Chrome and Keystone makes your computer way, way faster, all the time.

Long story: I noticed my brand new 16" MacBook Pro started acting sluggishly doing even trivial things like scrolling. Activity Monitor showed *nothing* from Google using the CPU, but WindowServer was taking ~80%, which is abnormally high (it should use <10% normally).

Very interesting. I’ve been dealing with random lag issues (apps taking a long time to start up, laggy scrolling in web browsers, etc.) on my 16" MacBook Pro ever since I got it. Chrome is the web browser I use for work stuff, and I never considered that it could be the root cause of my MacBook Pro’s performance issues. Today, I followed the instructions and got rid of Chrome and its associated configuration files. I also downloaded the latest version of Brave, and will be using that for work instead since it supports the various Chrome extensions I need. I’ll report back in a few weeks (hopefully with good news)!

Update (A few hours later…): No more issues. I guess it was Chrome after all.

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Well, I Sold My Leica Q2 📝

Last week, I sold my Leica Q2, and I managed to do so for more than what I had originally paid for the camera (Leicas are priced crazy high in Japan). After selling the Q2 for $5,250, I went to Fujiya Camera in Nakano and purchased a used Fujifilm X-Pro3 and two lenses (23mm and 35mm) for $2,500. I don’t have too much to say, but here are a few reasons why I decided to part ways with the Q2.

  • After almost a year of trying to come to terms with 28mm, I realized it’s just not the right focal length for me. I prefer longer focal lengths like 35mm and 50mm. Despite constantly telling myself I can always crop in thanks to the Q2’s 47-megapixel sensor, cropping in is just not the same as shooting with an actual 35mm or 50mm lens.
  • I miss bokeh so much. Yes, the 28mm Summilux on the Q2 has an aperture of f/1.7, but it’s very difficult to shoot portraits with a lot of bokeh due to the short focal length. This kind of stuff is not possible with the Q2.
  • I think the Q2 would’ve been a wonderful camera for me a few years ago when I was traveling a lot. It’s a great camera for documentary-style photography, which I was really into when I spent a year traveling around the world. Now, I just want a camera to take really nice portraits of my kid, and I’m not convinced that the Q2 is a good camera for that use case.
  • This is a total first world problem, but 47 megapixels is just too much, especially in conjunction with the Q2’s incredibly sharp Summilux lens. It’s useful for cropping, but I don’t crop much. At 47 megapixels, a lot of my photos look too sharp, too analytical, and too clinical – just not the best fit for my style of photography. I think a 36-megapixel sensor without the 75mm crop option would’ve made for a better camera.
  • The main reason why I sold my previous Fujifilm gear in favor of the Q2 was a need “to declutter all aspects of my life”. We were going through a stressful time as new parents, and I constantly felt like everything in life that involved making a choice (e.g. which lens to use for the day) was exhausting. Fortunately, we are in a much better place now, and I feel like I have the mental bandwidth to get back into photography with an interchangeable lens system, in addition to exploring film with my new Contax T2.

I loved many aspects of the Q2, but I don’t miss it at all after selling it. I spent the weekend walking around Tokyo with the X-Pro3 and the XF 35mm f/2 lens, and really enjoyed shooting with the longer focal length. I’ll be sharing some photos from the X-Pro3 after I get acclimated with it, so stay tuned!

AirPods Max Pro vs. AirPods Pro Max

A few days ago, I was contemplating the product name for the “next level up” from the AirPods Max – and I think there will be a higher-end model in the future because Apple will need a more accessible (not $549) over-the-ear headphone to saturate the market after the initial round of AirPods Max hype dies down.

The idea here is the current AirPods Max would get a price cut and become “the mainstream headphone”, and a more expensive model with the latest technologies would occupy the $549 (or higher) price point. The question is whether this new model would be named “AirPods Max Pro” or “AirPods Pro Max”. I’m leaning towards AirPods Pro Max, so let me explain why.

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Cloudflare's New Free Web Analytics 🔗

Cloudflare:

In September, we announced that we’re building a new, free Web Analytics product for the whole web. Today, I’m excited to announce that anyone can now sign up to use our new Web Analytics — even without changing your DNS settings. In other words, Cloudflare Web Analytics can now be deployed by adding an HTML snippet (in the same way many other popular web analytics tools are) making it easier than ever to use privacy-first tools to understand visitor behavior.

Cloudflare’s Web Analytics product was previously only available for Pro plans and above. Now it’s available for everyone, but there’s a small difference. The new free analytics service relies on a JavaScript snippet, while the paid service (which requires a paid Cloudflare plan) doesn’t.

As someone who’s obsessed with performance, I really enjoyed the paid service when I tested it out for a few weeks when it first came out. Not having to load additional JavaScript just for analytics was (and still is) something that’s very appealing to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a use case for a paid Cloudflare plan, and paying $29/month just for analytics was a waste of money.

As I mentioned in a post from earlier this month, I’ve been starting to look into replacing Google Analytics with a privacy-oriented analytics solution. I was taking a serious look at Fathom Analytics which clocks in at $12/month until I saw Cloudflare’s free analytics service pop up this week. I like the idea of supporting small businesses like Fathom Analytics, but I’m really trying hard to minimize costs for this site as much as possible.

I’ve already installed Cloudflare’s new service on this site. Cloudflare uses a single beacon.min.js file for analytics tracking, and it’s very lightweight at 4.28 KB. For reference, the Google Analytics tracking script weighs in at 73 KB, though I currently use Minimal Google Analytics Snippet, which reduces the JavaScript file to 1.5 KB. Anyway, my plan is to see how Cloudflare’s traffic stats compare to Google Analytics. If the numbers are comparable – say ±15% – I’ll probably get rid of Google Analytics and switch over to Cloudflare’s solution.

I’ll monitor for a few weeks, and provide an update. Thrilling stuff!

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