Theater Review: Ian McKellan on Stage

For Ian McKellen’s 80th year, he has embarked on a tour of 80 theaters in the UK (to be followed by a run of 80 shows in London at a West End theater). The goal of this tour is to give back to the theaters he worked in over his career, and others. As such, all the proceeds of these performances go to specific projects for each theater.

I’m celebrating my 80th birthday by touring a new solo show to theatres I know well and a few that I don’t. The show starts with Gandalf and will probably end with an invitation to act with me on stage. In-between there will be anecdotes and acting. I open at my local arts centre in January and end up by August in Orkney.

Live theatre has always been thrilling to me, as an actor and in the audience. Growing up in Lancashire, I was grateful to those companies who toured beyond London and I’ve always enjoyed repaying that debt by touring up and down the country myself, with the National Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Prospect Theatre, the Actors’ Company, as well as with commercial productions.

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The PhotoActive Podcast, Episode 47: Jeff Becomes an Event Photographer

Photoactive 400Recently, Jeff was the event photographer for the CreativePro Week 2019 conference in Seattle, a task that requires a different approach to making photos. You’ve probably been asked to shoot some type of event, so we talk a little about specific gear to deal with low-light situations and catching candid shots in a crowded setting.

Listen to PhotoActive, Episode 47: Jeff Becomes an Event Photographer.

Find out more, and subscribe to the podcast, at the PhotoActive website. You can follow The Next Track on Twitter at @PhotoActiveCast to keep up to date with new episodes, and join our Facebook group to chat with other listeners and participate in photo challenges and more.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 92: Zoom Zero-Day, and Unmasking Mac Malware Makers

An app named Zoom may sound like a good thing, but this app opened the Macs of users who had it installed – including Kirk – to a serious security vulnerability. This led Apple to take the rare action of pushing out a silent security update to Macs. And Josh tells us all about how you find out who creates malware.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

The Next Track, Episode #154 – Remembering the Walkman and Cassettes

The Next Track Blue Flat Button2 400pxThe Sony Walkman was introduced 40 years ago. When it first came out, it was the biggest change in musical listening since the record player. It ushered in an era of personal listening, and, with the popularity of cassette tapes, changed the music industry.

Listen to The Next Track: Episode #154 – Remembering the Walkman and Cassettes.

Find out more at The Next Track website, or follow The Next Track on Twitter at @NextTrackCast.

What Does .io Mean and What is the .io Domain Extension?

You’re probably familiar with the term TLD, but what is a TLD and what exactly does it stand for? The term TLD stands for top-level domain and refers to the ending of a domain name, or the section that immediately follows the dot symbol, such as .com, .net, .org, .edu, and others. You’ve almost certainly seen the plethora of country-specific TLDs (also known as a country code top-level domain, or ccTLD), such as .fr, .ca, or And you probably know that there are scads of other generic top-level domains (known as gTLDs), such as .inc, .business, and, yes, even .xxx. According to Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), there are currently more than 1,500 TLDs.

While there are over 1,500 TLDs, this article is intended to focus on the .io domain extension and will help provide answers to some of the more common questions we hear from startups, such as “What does .io mean?,” “What is the .io domain extension?” and, most pertinent to new businesses, “Should I use the .io domain for my startup?”

Read the rest of the article on The Startup Finance Blog.

The Semiotics of Black and White Photographs

"The black and white image was, in some essential way, photography’s defining feature – that was where its power lay and colour diminished its artfulness: paradoxically, monochrome – because it was so evidently unnatural – was what made a photograph work best." William Boyd: Sweet Caress: The Many Lives of Amory Clay

All photographs are simulacra, imitations of a reality that is filtered by a camera’s film or sensor to capture light and convert it to lines, shapes, and colors. Different film stocks and different cameras present the same reality in different ways. (Not to mention choices made by a photographer in post processing.) People generally don’t think about this, ascribing to photographs – at the ones that don’t look "doctored" – a certain level of realism.

As photographers increasingly use digital filters and presets to alter their photos, these images stray further and further from the reality that the camera captures. Perhaps a filter applies a vignette, a bit of texture, and washes out the colors, to suggest an old-fashioned image. Or a filter might increase or decrease saturation, sometimes to create a false ideal of accurate skin tones (this is what Kodachrome was designed for, at least for white people). Other filters are used to match current social media fads, rather than to enhance images in any particular way.

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Photo: Dahlias

My partner is an avid gardener, and we have hundreds of flowers of many kinds. As part of my recent office makeover, I have a space where I have decided that I will experiment with flower arrangement, and photograph some of my creations. While this isn’t properly ikebana, I have been perusing a book on that Japanese art to get some inspiration. Here’s an example.

Link to full-size version.

See more of my photos, and follow me on Instagram.

The Zen of Everything Podcast, Episode 3: Cars, Drugs, Busses, and Simple Living

Zen of everything artwork smallJundo and Kirk discuss what makes a car a car, whether gamblers and criminals should donate money to good causes, how a bus driver can help make the world better, and a book on simple living.

Listen to the latest episode of The Zen of Everything.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 91: Browser Fingerprinting, Hyper-Threading, Firefox, VPN, and More

We discuss a number of issues in the news, such as a 17-year old Firefox vulnerability, the threat to end-to-end encryption, and whether Apple should offer a VPN. We also answer listening questions about browser fingerprinting – what is it? we explain – and turning off hyper-threading (we explain that too).

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

My New Vitsœ Shelves Have Freed Up Space in My Office

In a recent article, I explained my new desktop zero plan to remove distractions around me when I work. As someone working at home, it’s very easy to let things accumulate, and it’s also a hard habit to break. I’ve succeeded in reaching desktop zero – at least as much as is practical, as there are some things I need on my desk – but my makeover project has gone much further than that.

In order to get more empty space in my office, I decided to remove a tall, dark bookcase from one area in my office, which was laden with things I wanted in the room, but many of which didn’t need to be visible. I did a bunch of rearranging of two pieces of furniture – low Ikea shelf units – but I needed some more practical storage. I settled on getting some Vitsœ shelves, from the company’s 606 Universal Shelving System. Designed by Dieter Rams, in 1960, and sold since then, these shelves are very modular and flexible. There are shelves of two widths and different depths, and a number of cabinets, all of which mount on vertical rails.

To buy these shelves, you measure your space, contact Vitsœ, and work with a planner, who explains the various options and creates precise plans for your installation. (They use a custom Mac app for this.)

Vitsoe plan

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