The Ridiculousness of it All by John J K Morris

Its no secret iTunes is getting more ridiculous with each version, but as I try to claw back some level of interest in listening to music on the go and on my Mac. I'm finding the prospect of wanting to use it even more maddening and suspect. The irony in the user interfaces for both iTunes and the Music app for iOS and the Mac respectively is the rising complexity alongside the dilution of character in both apps and what made the individual parts stand out. For example the ever growing presence of the iTunes Store in my music library. They used to be separate experiences.

My first headache after a long spell with not wanting to transfer or listen to music on either of my devices was after I put my Beatles Digital boxed set on my iPhone. And I only wanted the Beatles on my iPhone because I figured having less music would make the app simpler to operate. I was wrong and I didn't get a chance to find out because when the music app loaded, I still found all my music cluttering up the app, because of the streaming feature available. Coincidentally the Beatles boxed set can't be streamed even though I actually paid for it.

If I did kill the Internet connection on my iPhone, I of course succeeded in nullifying access to the streaming option, but that's inconvenient because of obvious reasons like having no internet. I signed out of my music app thinking that would fix the issue. It does, but then Apple helpfully logs you out of all other Apple services in the other different Apple Store apps.

It's a losing fight I find myself in. I'm pining for the simplicity and experience of a dumb iPod again because of Apple's insistence on us using its services at the expense of the quality of the experience offered. I thought Apple sweated the details, or maybe they are sweating them, but just not in the user's favour.

I don't even have Apple Music, iTunes Match or use Apple Connect and it feels my music collection isn't mine, it did on the iPod and it did on the Mac before the software started bloating and turning against itself.

This whole music service and content delivery system is so needlessly complicated and stubborn and I don't even need to talk about the bugs. I don't even talk about music amongst friends and I've stopped buying music because I'm not listening to any. It's been all podcasts and the occasional SoundCloud track.

This isn't new information and if I'm having this epiphany, I'm positive the folks in Cupertino are aware of what they are doing. So while I want Apple to re-imagine iTunes (how long have we been waiting, only for Apple to go the opposite direction?) like they have done with Photos, can I find the simplicity of the service that I desire elsewhere? Something that just reads MP3 files.

I'll update soon.

Schedule for the Upcoming Scope Day in Hong Kong by John J K Morris

Hello to those reading because of our collective scopes advertising a Hong Kong scope day. A series of 20 minute scopes of Lantau Island from the most popular Hong Kong Periscopers.

Together we are providing almost 6 hours of content for your viewing pleasure in order to show off Lantau Island, an island west of HK island.

Lantau Island la.

Lantau Island la.

Here is a rough approximation of the locations, colour coded for your convenience of the places we are going to collectively scope.

The schedule above lists 3 different times, HK time, PST and UTC as well so you can properly align yourself with who and what we scope.

Hong Kong scope day starts with John Ho on the cable car and then we will pass the scope around the largest island in the Hong Kong SAR. 

We are using the hashtag #ScopeTeamHK to promote this event.

All participating scopers can be found here on Periscope if you are a web viewer:

Podcasting in September/October by John J K Morris

Hello, I completely forgot to do at least a monthly summary of my podcasting endeavours. Better late than never I guess. I'll cover both months here.

JPG (Subscribe Here)

Episode 44 - is the last of the Game of Thrones episodes I've done with Charmaine, I'm looking for a new podcast co-host, I might ask Adam to help me with the last few episodes and then pick up with somebody new for season 6. This episode focuses on episodes 3 and 4 of season 5, hope you enjoy.

Episode 45 - Here we discuss the latest Apple announcements from their recent keynote.

Episode 46 - I have an iPhone 6s+ and most of episode 46 is spent discussing Apple again, in both negative and positive ways.

Hello From Hong Kong (Subscribe Here)

#4 is an Interview with the largest (by following) periscoper in Hong Kong, together we discussion Penguinsix's history and the effects of periscope on traditional news media. Worth listening, well everything is :-).

#5 is an interview with Munchies, a new doughnut shop in Hong Kong that is both organic and A La Carte, set up by some Canadians, together we discuss their food offerings and drug culture (a bit of a tangent right?) in Hong Kong. It's amazing stuff. 

A Still from a 4k iPhone Video Shoot. by John J K Morris

This was my first test to judge the quality of a still shot from a 4k video. This is an actual still taken while shooting. Not a screen capture of the video.  



I'm doing this update from my iPhone so I'm interested to see if there is any compression applied to the image from the Squarespace app. It does mean I can't check the resolution for myself until I get home. Anyway. Enjoy! 


My Next Camera by John J K Morris

I don't even have my new iPhone 6S+ yet and I'm already telling people on Periscope when I'll logically upgrade (the plan was for the iPhone 8S+ btw).

Before I broke my iPhone 4S, I wanted to go from the 4S to the first 12 megapixel iPhone, I nearly did if it wasn't for my own stupidity. I then waited it out with a second hand iPhone 5, I could have easily made that 4S last four years. Surely I can do it again with my 6S+? I don't see why not when the specs of the new iPhone is orders of magnitude more powerful. This new iPhone should have an easier task of servicing me for another four years. 

Or will it?

The iPhone 6S+ has finally bested the camera in my iPhone 5. When will it best my 16 megapixel Fuji X100 S? Or has it already if you compare the all round capabilities of the iPhone to the Fuji?

How Quickly Can I Replace my Standalone Camera?

My metrics for doing so would be through a combination of picture quality being 'good enough' and various workflow scenarios. A standalone camera might have more megapixels and the ability to shoot RAW, but if this documentary is anything to go by, or this one, it won't matter. I think I will find myself neglecting my Fuji X100 S camera now more than ever, never mind the next camera purchase. The 5 minute short film shot in 4K from the phone in the first link easily illustrates the strengths of the iPhone over a dedicated camera at various market segments.

Since I don't shoot with super high end gear, my setup is ripe for disruption. When I documented the Hong Kong protests of 2014, I brought both cameras to the streets, I made sure the "professional" photos were taken with the Fuji. This mindset and habit is going to change once I have the 6S+.

I Want to Shoot Unburdened Again and Then Some*.

I remember switching from Canon in 2012 to Fuji to simplify my workflow, I'll gladly do it again if it means carrying less and becoming more agile while travelling or with post-processing. 

Disruption is going to hit harder and sooner, Apple are operating at an amazing pace, they control the software platform to cultivate new apps, and can absorb new features into the phone for a marginal increase in price. From this point of comparison can I even justify a new Fuji camera for the cost of a new iPhone? The value of an iPhone is growing with each release. As a Fuji fan, is there even any point waiting for a camera with decent video capabilities? (4K is the requirement at least for now please Fuji Gods). 

This Isn't Earth-Shattering New News.

iPhone photography is serious stuff I find myself wanting in on and it seems others are already. Lens based artists have always made these seismic jumps, even against ridicule from stalwarts, jumping when switching from large format to 35mm, 35mm to digital and now as digital photography transitions over to people opting for their phone instead of a dedicated camera setup. Some people use their smartphone instead of a desktop or laptop, so why not their camera as well?

I also remember all kinds of gear talk at University (conversations of which I happily partook in) and it was always about which gears was best. The lecturers, sensing a level of bullshitting they've heard year after year from students, informed us on how out in the real world, no one would ever ask what somebody shot with if the client brief was met. To quote God in Futurama "When you do things right, people won't be sure you've done anything at all".

This was true even before I graduated, everything rested on the work not with what you shot with. Let's put that to the test again shall we?


*This feels like a natural fit for me as well because I'm incessantly trying to cut away the inessential, and importantly I work for myself when it comes to my own photography work.

Update:- This article where a Swiss TV station is replacing their equipment with iPhones.

Second update:- Lee Morris of Fstoppers has compared the iPhone 6s against his own Nikon DSLR gear. The iPhone wins in IDEAL SHOOTING CONDITIONS (please listen to what he has to say before jumping off at the deep end).

Third update:- The guys over at 'On Taking Pictures' have a great discussion on this very topic.

Longform: Immigration by John J K Morris

TLDR: If in a Tweet.

The way the refugee crisis is being handled is disgusting, ignores larger issues that can cause or perpetuate it. #unequalwealthdisdribution

Don’t Ignore the Complexity of a Narrative: Immigration

Syria is in the news a lot recently because of the civil war and the refugee crisis. The consequences of such an atrocity means that people want to escape the situation. Which is of course totally natural, nobody wants to be in somewhere like a war zone (with famine and disease included for free) that can't be disputed. Totally understandable from where I am (as an immigrant also).

Refugees are pouring out of Syria into Europe and they are of course looking towards countries that could give them a better quality of life. Some are even trying to pass through countries to get to the ones that offer better terms for refugees.

That aside it’s depressing to read in the news online how the issue is being handled in the UK. This issue (like many others) isn’t being handled or discussed in an entirely constructive way. Fear and separation are the main talking points again, talking against accepting political refugees. 

The history and issue of immigrants coming to the UK has been around longer than anybody who is alive today. 

In recent years it isn’t hard to witness a type of media language repeated and reinforced whenever there is a sizeable movement of people who are wanting to come to the UK (or to any European country). It’s always a language that promotes fear and mistrust of the people travelling. The tone taken stems from politicians, stating as almost fact about what would happen in a negative way if their government would accept a large population of people who are different culturally to the native population.

Shall we ignore that Germany is taking in anybody who comes to their country?

Anybody reading history can see it when black people game to the UK, then the Indians came and then we saw it when the Polish people came to the UK. The majority of those people came here seeking a better life and did contribute and assimilate into British culture. Once there is another group of people to demonise, it seems we forget about the previous demonised group. 

I totally believe that immigration and then the integration of foreign people is a positive thing, of course there will be people who will take advantage of any social welfare systems that are designed to help others. But to focus only on the negatives is totally unfair to the people in need and is detrimental to the host country (one reason alone is missing out on experiencing an incoming culture). People become fearful, less open minded and distrustful of others. The language of the media and politicians used is to separate, to create an us vs them system, when there is simply no need to.

Listen to the comments made by parents in the recent two part ‘This American Life’ podcast. It’s a microcosm of what is happening regarding this topic of immigration. People reacted out of emotion and prejudices rather than the facts. In that two part episode, the story was about how a school serving mostly black people had to close and its students had to move to a neighbouring school which was in a different area mostly occupied by white people. The white people feared the changes this would bring and insisted on all sorts of actions to take in order to not give integration a chance. The theme of the show was about how integration is a good thing and everybody goes against the facts.

Again the history (in US educational history) regarding integration has shown that there are more benefits to integrating different students of colour rather than continuing to perpetuate segregation and accept the assumptions of black or white culture coming from it. The two part episode can be found here.

Look at it this issue another way. (My point in the paragraphs above is to suggest the rhetoric of the government and media is wrong and we don’t seem to make a logical argument when history is on the side of accepting new people to a new culture, everybody does benefit. Instead people (politicians especially) want to make an emotional argument to pander to the masses for serving ulterior purposes.

Am I Really an Immigrant or an Expatriate?

I too came to another country to seek a better life, but nobody has mistreated me with their assumptions or prejudices, the media doesn't talk about me and politicians haven’t cared about me. Maybe it's in part because of my status as a westerner I have one of the best passports in the world. Perceptions are meant to be different.

People have asked me repeatedly on Periscope whether the people in Hong Kong are friendly or if I have encountered any racism. I don’t feel I’m ever discriminated in a negative way, only ever in a positive way (unless it boils down to a client wanting a white female tutor or an american tutor, but is very granular and exists on a different level). 

Syrians however don't have the same luxury in both examples above. I wouldn’t consider myself in any way to be in the same situation as Syrians. I don't mean to take anything away by saying I’m an immigrant. I hope it doesn't sound like I am, but my basic point is that the Syrian people and myself want a better life and we've wanted to leave our respective countries in order to have a better life. Perceptions are different because it can boil down to simply being born in a different place. I use the word Syrian by the way to represent all immigrants to simplify for argument’s sake. 

I don’t understand how British politicians can say people ‘should wait in line’ when they are not the ones facing the reality of the situation the Syrians are living in. There are debates and discussions in government which only serve to illustrate how callous people are when really all people want is a chance to live again to live free like we enjoy and take for granted in the West.

Here’s some things anecdotally that I think we (westerners) enjoy having come from the West:

  • Freedom of travel. Being a laymen in this topic, I’m confused why some people are allowed greater freedom of travel around the world than others are. Why IS my passport better?
  • With this ‘freedom,’ I can travel anywhere. How many times have you heard of a friend who wanted to backpack and on the side make some money teaching english? You know that person right? That right there is the practice of entering a country and working illegally or if they settle for a few months ‘state sponge’ (since any earnings are not being declared), this is something which is never construed in a negative context for ‘us’, but assumed as the probable action of others while they most likely under some kind of serious duress. 
  • Less prejudice because the perception of my country is a positive one or an aspirational one. (This is why I don’t receive any negative racism living in Hong Kong, most people here want the western lifestyle instead of the one being promoted my Mainland China.
  • Working holiday visas. Some countries can get together and allow some people to have a 'working holiday'.

Another Aspect of Income Inequality

Expanding on my position slightly, let’s have a look at this topic another way. Here is a map of the world and let’s try to gently touch on the global scale of this topic.


73% of the world’s income exists in the green zone with only 14% of the world’s population living there. The flip is 86% of the world’s population has to share the remaining 27% of the world’s income.

How did that happen? I’m assuming we aren’t ignorant of world history, we understand western power, western aggression in it’s various guises, how it came to be and globalisation that mostly benefits the rich. Most of it came by taking stuff from one part of the world and putting it in their own backyard. This is the result of it.

Now we have a situation where those who don’t have much, want to go where there is plenty. Don’t you think we have enough to help with? It's a lie from those in government to say their resources are strained and they can't accept more migrants. I'd call bullshit on that. It is interesting how the countries in the world that have problems with immigration are the richest countries.

“One consistent line from Conservative politicians has been that our task is to stop refugees from thinking they’ll be better off by coming here. To put this another way, we have to make life in Britain worse than it is under Isis. So we have to find a group that objects to Isis, on the grounds that they’re too wishy-washy, then let them take over for a bit and just watch the problem melt away”.

That’s an interesting way to tackle this issue; make the host country appear less desirable than one that is running rampant with Isis. But as the source proves, there is no escaping how the UK and those countries in the green zone ARE more desirable and will stay desirable for a long time to come.

Nothing is going to change until we address the imbalances, the double standards and this tribalism that exists in this world will continue. There is an 'is' vs 'us' mentality that will continue to propagate as it disguises cultural history, attitudes and the reality of the world.

I wish I could remember where I heard this story and attribute it properly, but it goes like this - There are 14 cookies on the table, there is a rich man, a white man and a black man. The rich man takes 13 cookies and turns to the white man and says ‘watch out for the black guy, he’s going to take your cookie’.

In a sentence everything I could have said can be summed up right there. Just change what the white man and the black man represent and that's the situation we're in.


General Updates by John J K Morris

Hello, it's been a while since I've written anything new. The whole website has barely existed in maintenance mode while I video blog every day on Periscope.

There will be a blog post coming out soon regarding my thoughts on Periscope. I have already discussed some of my thoughts in episodes 1 and 4 of the Hello from Hong Kong podcast which you can find on the iTunes store here.

Updates to the site are very small, I've removed the Hong Kong People Podcast from the navigation along the top, that show ended 2 months ago and I want to concentrate on the new HK themed podcast. As long time readers will notice, I'm not using Squarespace for the new show. I've gone back to a paid service because I can have more fine tuned control over the show and gather better statistics.

Some of the content from the previous podcast will return in various forms later.

If you are new to my website and want to catch more of me. You can find me here also:

Podcasting in August by John J K Morris

Things have slowed down this month due to timing and illnesses. But things are coming back together.

JPG (Subscribe Here)

Only one episode this month from the JPG crew. There were supposed to be two, but I had editing problems with Logic. Turns out, if you leave the Varispeed on anything other than 0% the bouncing will take the Varispeed into account and bounce at the reduced or sped up rate. Then I hit my bandwidth limit trying to update the problematic episode. Anyway, episode 44 will be released in September now.

Episode 43 (with an after show) is August's only episode in that show we talk about recent trailers that I shouldn't have watched and then Adam and myself review Ant-Man. In the after show we discuss the effects of Periscope on my podcasting, not Adam's.

Hello From Hong Kong (Subscribe Here)

I'm trying to get episodes out on a 3 week release schedule. Episode 3 is out and it's an interview with a friend who has come back to study in Hong Kong, we get into the reasons why and what attracts us to this part of the world. NOTE: it was recorded live on Periscope at the same time.

  • Notice episodes are coming out on Thursdays (Wednesday in the US) for both shows? It's probably going to be like that for the foreseeable future. :-)
  • Following on from last month, I managed to buy a new microphone via a GoFundMe, funds were raised within 5 days of the fund going live. An amazing endorsement for the Periscopes I intend to make. Another thank you to those who contributed.

A small GoFundMe Project by John J K Morris

I've started a small GoFundMe project for a portable microphone. It can be found here. Check out the rewards as well. It will be put towards making better quality Periscopes when it comes to audio capture. This is the microphone in question.

It's a small high quality travel microphone that plugs into a Mac or an iOS device. I'm looking to simplify my travel recording gear while at the same time enable me to create better sounding podcasts and periscopes.

At the moment I have two options. First, to travel around with my laptop and my larger or desktop microphone (which needs to be boxed to protect it when carried around).

Second, I can solely use my iPad or iPhone for the ultimate in portability, but microphone positioning and quality will never be perfect or controlled with 100% satisfaction.

With this GoFundMe I can just use an iPad and this iPhone sized microphone with far fewer compromises.

The microphone in HK costs $2000HKD (HK Apple Store), in the UK it is £199 (UK Apple Store). But because there is no sales tax in Hong Kong, I can set the funding goal lower than the UK price and take advantage of the price difference by buying it still in Hong Kong. This also means it's easier for people to help me out as well.

The rewards are kind of odd, but fit in with the character of myself and my periscopes. 

The project can be found here. Thanks for looking and/or donating.

UPDATE: After four days, the funding goal was met. Thanks to everybody who donated!