Tesla details updated Model 3
September 01, 01:43 am

Tesla has at long last unveiled details of the Model 3 refresh known as “Highland”. Photos and information went live on the automaker’s European website this evening.

The new Model 3 features several refinements and updates, including :

  • Redesigned exterior for maximum aerodynamics
  • Increased range (629km on LR trim)
  • Upgraded wheels
  • Brand new interior, with wrap around design and light strip
  • New 8” touchscreen for back seat passengers
  • Ventilated seats
  • Wireless charging
  • Acoustic glass, reducing external sound

Overall, it looks like a really sleek upgrade to what was already the king of the hill. Tesla is seeing more competition in the EV space, and continuing to evolve the Model 3 will help them maintain their dominant position for a while longer most likely.

The revised Model 3 is not yet available for order in the US currently. That will surely change in the near future however, so stay tuned!

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One Manilla Envelope
August 31, 02:00 am

Recently we passed the 15th anniversary of the introduction of the original MacBook Air. It was billed as the “world’s thinnest notebook” - and it blew everyone away when Steve Jobs pulled it out of a regular manilla envelope.

I fondly remember watching the livestream of Macworld and struggling to believe my eyes. We were still coming off the high of the previous year’s introduction of the iPhone. now it was being followed up with a futuristic laptop that seemed impossible, and in a way it was.

The original MacBook Air was slow and had a low res screen. The world still delivered a lot of software on disc at the time, and so were most movies. However, the inspiration for this article was an old Steve Jobs quote that encapsulated Apple during those golden days, but especially the MacBook Air.

He said “There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been. And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple.”

The MacBook Air was Apple skating to where the puck was going to be. If anything they were early, but that was the glory of the second Steve Jobs era at Apple. They had such a feeling of inspiration and really gambled on their vision of the future. Today, all of our laptops are super thin, without disc drives and have SSDs. The MacBook Air was really the first vision of that. The original iPhone, while a far cry from our modern mobile phones, was a shot in the dark of where things would (or should) go. The MacBook air was equally as bold of a reinterpretation of the laptop.

To sum up Steve’s legacy, I think that quotes embodies how I see it more than any other. He had such a profound vision of where technology should be going, and he was able to drive his teams to build it.

Today’s Apple feels focused on building a seamless experience for users. And it does a wonderful job, don’t get me wrong. I love the eco-system and how great everything (usually) works together.

We were definitely spoiled with the iPod, iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air all coming within a decade of each other though. That pace of innovation isn’t sustainable over the long term, but I can’t wait for the next time Apple decides to make a big splash and show us where they think things are going. Right or wrong, those are the exciting times that really push things forward.

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Apple Watch Series 8 - More is More
January 18, 09:50 pm

Note : This article is all about the standard Apple Watch Series 8. I’m not going to talk about the Apple Watch Ultra because it is a whole new beast. But I did want to mention - if you have a 45mm Apple Watch Series 8, you CAN use the new Apple Watch Ultra bands and they look pretty good. I’ll link a video below.

Like many of you, I’m still figuring out the right cadence to upgrade my Apple Watch. I upgrade my iPhone every two years, which is a bad habit formed from the days of carrier phone contracts. I don’t do that with my Watch though. The passiveness of the Apple Watch means that unless the device is broken or noticeably slow, I don’t actively want to change it. Why risk messing up a good thing?

With this in mind, my Watch upgrade history goes something like this. I went from an original Apple Watch (Series 0) to a Series 3. That was obvious, as it had a major speed increase and cellular support. Having cellular support in the Watch was awesome and sounded super useful (spoiler : it wasn’t). The next year I upgraded again, from a Series 3 to a Series 4 and it’s wonderful, massive new display. I dropped cellular on this model due to the lack of use it received over the previous year. That Series 4 is where I stayed until the Series 8 came out last fall. I thought the always on display and speed increases were nice, but it wasn’t going to make a tangible difference in how I used my Apple Watch.

I will also confess that I originally planned on upgrading to a Series 7 in 2021 with it’s rumored flat edge redesign. The design change was my motivation to upgrade and when that didn’t materialize I went back into hibernation. So why jump on the Series 8? The temperature sensor was the straw the broke the camel’s back, but more on that later. I finally realized that all the things I had skipped over the last 4 generations added up to a pretty nice upgrade, even without a huge “wow” feature that I had conditioned myself to wait for. I would still be getting the always on display, improved performance, improved battery, and fast charging. I also wanted to switch back to a cellular model, as I had started running and found that connectivity way more useful now. These upgrades would also let me take full advantage of sleep tracking, with would go hand in hand with the newly announced temperature tracking and how it worked. I swear that discussion is still coming.

What’s New

Lets talk about wha...

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What's The Max?
December 15, 10:20 pm

Should anybody pay $549 for these? No, not really.

These days you can find AirPods Max on Amazon frequently for $100 off. So are they worth it for $449? The answer to that is most likely still no - but I’ll concede these are some awesome sounding, premium headphones. They are well made and have a great feature set, but they exist in an awkward space where they are priced above their capabilities and getting into the range of much higher end headphones. You are paying a lot for the Apple design sense and attention to detail here, with one exception that we’ll get to later. That being said, it is a compelling package but one that I feel like $399 is probably the sweet spot.

Like most Apple products the design and material quality is top notch. The ear cups are made from metal instead of the plastic commonly found on head phones even more expensive than these. Even the headband has a sturdy feel. The The only downside is with that hefty premium feel, these have a little more weight than most headphones. After wearing AirPods Max during a multi-hour coding session, I can definitely feel it afterwards. Also the internal ear pads are removable and super comfortable. They have a super nice magnetic attachment that is strong but yet easy to remove. Fun fact here - you are actually supposed to replace the ear pads on headphones every so often, which I did not know. Apple just engineered a crazy elegant solution to accomplish that. It does let you mix and match colors which is cool.

So how do you get these fancy headphones hooked up to your device? The AirPods Max will connect over Bluetooth or you can connect to a standard audio 3.5mm jack. Wired connections do require an additional purchase of a lightning to 3.5mm cable for about $35, available from the Apple Store. I think most people in the market for the AirPods Max are going to take advantage of the H1 chip to get all the fancy Apple goodies. That gives you Spatial audio (which sounds crazy good), auto device switching via iCloud, one tap pairing, transparency mode and noise cancellation mode and access to Siri. The AirPods Max borrow the button and digital crown from the Apple Watch and they work out really well. That gives you some fairly precise volume control and a also a quick way to toggle your sound mode. Holding down the crown will trigger Siri. The transparency and noise cancellation modes are stellar. I can’t stress this enough. I have used some other br...

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This is the (Halo) Remix
October 03, 05:33 pm

When I purchased an original Xbox in 2001, there was only one game that I wanted – Halo : Combat Evolved. Like many others, it was the killer app that compelled me to tolerate that weird, giant controller and gamble on Microsoft’s first home console. Instantly I fell in love with the franchise and it has remained one of my favorite FPS games to this day.

Over the past few years other FPS games have skyrocketed in popularity, from the likes of Call of Duty to Overwatch to Destiny. The latter of which was created by Bungie, who was responsible for creating Halo and who developed the first three mainline entries in the series. Destiny has dramatically advanced what gamers expect from an FPS game. It provides a variety in armor and weapons, an ongoing story, a variety of different activity types and a fluidity of control that just feels better than any other shooter out there. Needless to say, the bar has been raised significantly since Halo 5’s release in the fall of 2015.

Since then, I have parted ways with my Xbox, transitioning to gaming primarily on a combination of Playstation and PC. However, I jumped at the chance to test an early version of Halo Infinite the past two weekends on my PC, hoping to get a feel for the upcoming installment. The following are initial impressions, but keep in mind this is an early version, not even labeled as a beta. We don’t even know when this build is from, so things could change considerably before the final release on December 7th.

My post today is going to cover the feel of the gameplay. People with faster gaming PCs can tell you all about maxing out Infinite’s graphics or how the Dolby surround sound shakes the walls.

That being said, my first impression was mostly positive. The game felt good, and my time with Halo Infinite was fun. When it releases this December, the multiplayer will be free to play, using a combination of season passes and treating the single player campaign as DLC. A side note, I’m really hoping this, like a lot of Halo Infinite, signals a shift to a Destiny like formula where yearly or at least regular single player expansions are released. Don’t worry, we will return to this comparison soon and often.

This is definitely a remix of Halo – like a modern twist on the original trilogy Halo gameplay. As far as Infinite itself, I think the game did a fine job of achieving the goal it set out for. The developers mentioned previously this wa...

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Now With Moving Pictures
October 02, 11:15 am

Hi everyone! So I’m happy to let you know that I have started a Red Escape Youtube channel. Why does a blog need a Youtube Channel? Good question. I’m actually looking to cover some other interests – streaming video and the occasional video game – in a more visual format. Hope you’ll check it out.


RedEscape Channel on YouTube
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To Affinity and Beyond
December 15, 07:43 pm

For the majority of the past twenty years I have used Adobe apps every day. I am intimately familiar with them. I have also been using the Affinity suite for the last few years. I wanted to discuss the rising popularity of Adobe alternatives and what Serif specifically brings to the table.

To start, people who know me are aware that I’m not a fan of subscription software. I refuse to even sell my own software as a subscription.

A few years ago Adobe drastically changed the landscape of the design world by moving all of their Creative Suite apps to a subscription only offering. Since that point, the trinity of Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign has been locked behind a monthly paywall.

A lot can change in a few years though – like the reinvention of European developers Serif.

Serif are the developers behind the Affinity suite of design apps. If you haven’t heard of them, Affinity is a modern reimagining of the Photoshop, Illustrator and Indesign triangle. What’s wrong with the Adobe apps you might ask? I mean most designers were trained on and have 20 years or more of experience with these apps. Keyboard shortcuts for all three programs are ingrained in the subconscious of designers. Why even chance switching your entire design suite up for something that you’ve used your entire career?

The two things that pushed myself (and many other designers) were cost and quality.

I had previously read that most designers updated Creative Suite every other version. This makes sense for a few reasons. Cost is of course reason one – why buy new software you don’t need. Creative Suite had always been healthy investment, over $2000 for the Master Collection. But the reason that gets less headlines is the more interesting one – when you have a production workflow up and running well, you don’t want to be doing app updates every year. You want to keep that workflow as stable as possible. The conflict here is that Adobe would like you to spend money as often as possible. After acquiring Macromedia and snuffing out their largest competitor Adobe had created an interesting market. Outside of a few niches, they had no realistic competition. While most industries at the time couldn’t have dared be as hostile to their customers, creatives literally had no choice. Creative Cloud was something no one the industry was really asking for. It only benefited Adobe’s bottom line, but it did that exceedingly well. Adob...

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TV & Movies

Spiderman : Far From Home Review
July 28, 04:43 pm

I’ve been a huge MCU fan since the very first Iron Man movie back in 2008. With Avengers : Endgame being released on digital this week, I wanted to write a brief article about some feelings I had about the latest MCU outing, Spiderman : Fair From Home.

*** Be warned, from this point on there could/will be spoilers ***

Let me be clear – I absolutely loved this movie. Where the first Spiderman was pretty good, it felt like there was just a little too much of Peter moping about not Happy not taking his calls. Far From Home rectifies that, pushes Peter forward as a character, builds out the world and more.

Director Jon Watts, who returned from Homecoming, does a wonderful job of showing Peter’s struggle to balance his life between being a high school kid and a superhero. Homecoming tugged on this thread a little, but FFH makes it a focal point. For me that is a defining trait of Peter Parker. I also applaud the decision to take Peter out of New York. It makes for a nice change of pace and scenery.

Tom Holland brings Peter to life again (literally following Endgame) but with a dilemma we haven’t seen before. Without Tony Stark around, Peter is left to deal with things on his own. The prospect of not having Iron Man as safety net seems to terrify him. He’s not ready to step up and be the new Iron Man, instead looking to pass that responsibility to anyone who will take it. The character development of Peter in FFH is so well done – it felt like we literally saw him grow up and accept his place as a full fledged Avenger in this movie. There is a scene later in the film that involves AC/DC which would make Tony Stark proud.

I would be remiss to not mention Mysterio, who I felt like was just as good if not better than the Vulture. Knowing Mysterio’s arc from the comics gave a little away, but Marvel did a great job of weaving his story into the MCU tapestry. Jake Gyllenhaal was perfect in his role as Quentin Beck/Mysterio. He really sells both sides of his character, who makes a wonderful ally and villain for our beloved wall crawler.

The supporting cast was great too. Peter’s classmates and teachers provide their comedic relief, including a touching video tribute to the Avengers at the beginning of the movie. Ned and Betty Brant’s story was fun, although it came really close to being played out too much. We learned a little more about MJ’s character, but I feel like Marvel has to make a decisi...

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TV & Movies

Show me the Plus!
July 07, 10:04 pm

I will admit up front that I’m definitely not the biggest sports fan in the world. I am however a cord cutter, which means it’s quite difficult to get access to sports content. Being from the Midwest I was raised on basketball, and I still follow both the NBA and NCAA. I also enjoy the occasional MLB game and in rare moments will even watch an NHL game. For the past couple of months I tried subscribing to ESPN+ to see what it can offer to the cord cutter who doesn’t need sports, but still would like to have them around.

First off the basics – ESPN+ is a streaming service, priced at $4.99 per month in the US. As a disclaimer, I paid for my ESPN+ subscription out of my own pocket; I received no compensation from Disney and/or ESPN.

Since it costs only $4.99 per month it’s one of the more affordable services out there. However the big question is – what does ESPN+ offer to a cord cutter? For what I would consider a typical American sports viewer the answer is not very much.

ESPN+ will show you some games that are broadcast on ABC, but any content from ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3 or the myriad of other ESPN cable properties, is not available. What you get is a smattering of minor league or international sports. The only basketball games available were European leagues. Even NBA summer league games required a cable subscription. The service does seem to have a fair amount of UFC content, but of course any major events still look to be pay-per view. I don’t follow UFC enough to know how good the ESPN+ coverage is; if you do it might be worth checking out.

There is one daily MLB game you can watch, but it suffers from the same issue as the app. You’ll miss lots of games if you are located close to a team and that one game is blacked out. Living in the Midwest, I am blacked out from any Reds, White Sox or Cubs games despite living hours away from any of those teams. This amount to frequent blackouts. On the bright side the ESPN+ game is a different game than the free game. It’s not been available for me to test, but during the NHL season they likewise offer a hockey game of the day on ESPN+.

The one exception to this seems to be soccer. I don’t follow the sport personally, but my girlfriend does and she was familiar with several teams that were playing. They claim to offer every out of market MLS game – so for soccer fans ESPN+ might be worth the cash.

Besides that, it’s slim pickings – with ...

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Building Government 2.0
April 21, 03:58 pm

I very rarely wade into the world of politics, and I have two reasons why.

First of all, it’s an ultra corrupt world of backstabbing, lies and grandstanding. None of that is appealing to me. Secondly, it seems that real change, despite broken promises and campaign slogans, is few and far between. Politicians (of all parties) don’t appear to actually want change, it’s the constituents that do. Politicians are merely jockeying for influence and money.

As a thought experiment however, I attempted to approach government like I would software. Analyze what isn’t working without emotion and conclude “If I were doing a version 2.0 feature list of the US Government, what would that look like?” – these are my release notes:

1. Congress Limited to 8 Years

The first “feature” of Gov 2.0 is to end Career politics. A “user” may serve 8 years total in either the House of Representatives or Senate.

2. Lobbying Removed

All corporate lobbying of the US Government will be ended. Companies should not be allowed to use their influence (aka money) to steer the government. Instead of lobbying, publicly televised quarterly panels will be held to allow government reps and corporate reps to discuss important topics. A panel of citizens would decide what is worth bringing forward for a vote. When the country votes for President, any proposals brought forth from this committee would be voted on as well.

3. Religious Restrictions Removed

Freedom of religion should be protected – unless it endangers the lives of innocents. Every accommodation must be made to protect freedom of religion, for all major religions. But in the case of an exemption for a life saving vaccination for example, the preservation of life must be given precedence.

4. Pay for Life Removed

When a regular person quits their job, they are not paid for the rest of their life. Government should function the same. As the purpose of government is to “serve” the people, when you are done serving you will be expected to go back to your career. Government is NOT A CAREER. The money saved from this can be funneled back into more important programs.

5. Pay Reductions

Congress shall make no more than the average median wage of the constituents they serve. A congressman or woman should not make $175,000 a year while the people they serve only make $50,000. The President shall make twice the median wage...

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