Marius Masalar

Photographer, Technology Writer, Podcaster

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The Thing Is…

Filed under the same category as my frustration with people who say they “could care less” when trying to express the opposite sentiment, I want to talk about “the thing is”.

I don’t know why, but in recent years I’ve heard a dramatic and terrifying increase in the appearance of these sorts of nonsensical redundancies in people’s speech:

  • The thing is is that…
  • The reason being is that…

Otherwise perfectly articulate and intelligent people have started succumbing to this syntactic syndrome. Podcasts, talks, daily conversation…I hear it everywhere. Is it contagious? What is going on here‽

I understand that language evolves, sometimes at the expense of grammar, but this isn’t some quirky colloquialism: it sounds uneducated.

And so, a humble plea: if you’re going to use these phrases, take a moment to think about what you’re saying. Eloquence matters.

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To The Moon

A piercing meditation on the nature of life and the paths we do and do not take through it


I don’t even know where to begin with this one.

When I was a kid, I remember using RPG Maker to craft small narrative adventures with my friends. They were janky, but somehow their mechanical awkwardness shone a spotlight on other elements—like the story.

This effect is at the centre of To The Moon’s appeal. It’s not a terribly difficult or innovative gaming experience, but it is a triumph of interactive narrative, with more heart and impact than any other game in recent memory. More emotion is packed into these pixels than any blockbuster.


I blazed through it on iOS in two days and came out so deeply affected that Shannon felt compelled to play through it as well to see why. She finished it the same day she started it, unable to put it down.

 Emotional Dynamics

Telling a compelling story...

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Things 3.4 Introduces Automation →

A robust URL scheme, app integrations, and more stuff I can’t seem to find a use for


I have something of a love/hate relationship with Workflow and iOS automation in general. As an iOS “power user”, there’s an expectation that I should use Workflow to speed up various aspects of my daily routine.

Yet try as I might, I cannot find many opportunities where Workflow actually improves my productivity, speeds up my workflows, or helps me accomplish things any faster than I can without it. This is a failing on my part, admittedly, because it seems everyone else gets it.

And that isn’t to say I don’t enjoy trying.

I’ve been spending the past few weeks teaching myself Workflow, largely by de-constructing the Workflows of others and trying to build variations. It’s fun, but beyond the geeky satisfaction of it I’m left with little more than a collection of Workflows that replicate things I...

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Fujifilm X-E3

Exploring the X-Protegé


The X-E3 is to the X-Pro 2 as the X-T20 is to the X-T2.

Fujifilm has taken the DNA of the larger camera and stripped away some pro-oriented functionality in favour of a compact size, simple operation, and a lower price point.

In the case of the X-E3 though, they also gave it brand new features like Bluetooth connectivity, and some firmware adjustments that meant it actually had the fastest autofocus of any Fujifilm camera at launch.

In many ways, it’s the perfect secondary camera to the X-Pro 2. For newcomers to the system, I think it makes for a more compelling entry point than the X-T20, which I find ugly and uncomfortable to wield.

Cutting to the chase: this is a very appealing new camera, and I think its balance of features, performance, and price put it into a very favourable position for those considering a compact or companion system.



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Just Keep Writing

This morning, I discovered a thought-provoking article.

I was excited to start following the blog that published it—new sources of great content are few and far between these days. Clicking through to the homepage, I found myself facing a headline that’s become all too familiar: The End.

What’s worse, that article was published three years ago. I’d stumbled upon a decaying relic of the old web, a memento mori of better times for blogging.

 Performing Bloggish Acts

On the other hand, far from being dead, “blogging is kind of everywhere,” Jason Kottke recently pointed out:

Everyone who’s updating their Facebook pages and tweeting and posting on Instagram and Pinterest is performing a bloggish act.

He describes a disconnect between the blogging of old and the golden age of blog publications: the former was personal, a view through the lens of a particular thinker; the latter was a more...

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Agent A

The spy-themed puzzle game for everyone


I made a promise to myself a couple of years back that I wouldn’t buy a new game until I’d finished (or given up on) the one I was currently playing.

For the most part, I’ve stuck to this approach and it’s kept my gaming backlog manageable. Every so often though, a game wanders into my awareness with such charm that I can’t help but try it immediately.

Agent A is one such game.

 iOS: A Puzzling Platform

I don’t know what it is about the iPad, but I find that most of the games I play on it are puzzle games of some sort—Monument Valley, The Room series, and so on.

Particularly on the expansive 12.9” iPad Pro screen, the experience of settling down with a slow-paced puzzler is immersive and satisfying.


 I Spy

Agent A is an episodic puzzle adventure, with animated story sequences tying it all together.

You begin outside a seaside home...

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All The Things →

Things is a deeper app than it seems at first glance.

Today, the Sweet Setup launched All The Things, an in-depth course on using the app productively. Having gone through the course (and contributed a few tidbits ?), I can recommend it to anyone who’s picked up Things but feels like they’re not getting the most out of it yet.

The core of the program is a detailed walkthrough of the app’s capabilities, plus some setup interviews and workflow tricks. The Pro tier includes that, plus an app-agnostic guide discussing Shawn’s hybrid, analogue/digital approach to productivity. It also features in-depth interviews with six productivity experts for some additional perspective.

The basic content costs $29 USD. You can snag the Pro edition of the course, with the additional productivity content, for $49 (or less, if you hurry—it’s 20% off during launch week). Lastly, you can buy just the...

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Hello (Again) to Svbtle

A refuge for the modern blogger

I left Svbtle 4 years ago, seeking greener pastures on other platforms. The landscape of blogging was different then; still nourishing, still hopeful.

Today, blogging as we knew it has been largely subsumed—along with traditional news—into monolithic castles of content.

They have their perks, and I still believe that great content transcends platforms, but as the industry of personal blogging collapses in on itself, my desires have changed. Where I once sought community, I now seek individuality. In place of power, I want permanence.

All of this has brought me, hat in hand, back to Svbtle.

 What Matters in a Platform

Over those same four years, I discovered a deep-seated appreciation for companies and services that temper their progress with patience. The Basecamps and Things of the world.

Svbtle made a promise to bloggers: it promised to stick...

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“A Slime Trail of Data” Leigh Alexander on Algorithms →

I could listen to Leigh Alexander talk about her grocery list; she’s one of my favourite thinkers across any field.

In this segment from episode 116 of the Kotaku Splitscreen podcast, she joins the hosts in discussing the pitfalls of a society that trusts too readily in its technology.

I was struck by the mention of how children growing up today look at traditional commercials with confusion, thinking they’re some sort of absurdly-short TV show because they’re not used to seeing advertising in that form.

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iPad Photography Workflows →


The iPad has been on my mind a lot lately.

I bought my first in 2011, and it’s remarkable to see how far the device and my impressions of it have evolved over the years. In particular, the advent of the iPad Pro has accelerated a process that was already well underway: me moving more and more of my computing to the iPad.

This year, iOS 11 (and the arrival of a few amazing professional apps) allowed me to move portions of my photography workflow to the iPad as well. Having spent a few months honing that workflow, I’ve come to the conclusion that the iPad is a fantastic companion to a desktop computer for photography (not replacement…yet), and an effective replacement for a laptop for managing images while travelling.

My (debut!) article on The Sweet Setup digs into the details.

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