Romey's Ramblings

Random musings of Jeromey Balderrama

July 7, 2016
by Romey
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Dallas 

My heart goes out to all those in Dallas, especially for the police officers that were killed and wounded tonight. I grieve for them and their families. Make no mistake: this is the greatest tragedy tonight. 

I’m also deeply sad for the thousands of people who have had their voices hijacked by people who sought to commit terror tonight. If you can set the tragedy aside, it’s remarkable to think that so many came together in so many communities to further the conversation our society needs to have about injustice, racial tension, and overreaching of authority by those charged with protecting us.

The problem is that this may now devolve into another polarizing issue that’s over-simplified to being either anti-black or anti-cop. Just like Orlando prompted discussions about whether certain people shouldn’t be able to buy guns, we need to have the same conversation about whether certain people  shouldn’t be able to become cops. 

It is possible for people to grieve these officers in Dallas and other law enforcers who have made grave sacrifices, while at the same time question whether current climate and procedures give way to an abuse of power by police, and whether they should be held to a higher standard. I’m fearful however that our idea institutions and leadership have become so weak that we won’t have that thoughtful discussion before more lives are lost. 

Tonight is a sad night, this week is a sad week – not only for those lives that were lost, but also for our kids. I’m sad about the world they’re going to grow up in. 

June 30, 2016
by Romey
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Apple’s playing with “Monopoly” money

Spotify: Apple is holding up app approval to squash competition

Let’s get this out of the way: Apple is completely within their rights to set whichever app approval policies in their platform. It’s their OS, their store, their rules. I’m not a lawyer, but when it comes to Apple enforcing their own policies: I don’t think Spotify has a legal leg to stand on.

That said: Apple may (and should) lose in the court of public opinion, and their behavior is asshole-ish to say the least, and likely anti-competitive to the point that they may (and should) be punished.

I get it, you built the store and thus are entitled to take a cut for setting up and facilitating a profit center for app developers, and I realize Apple feels they deserve a cut for digital goods and subscriptions for apps that charge nothing up front.  Throughout the course of the app store, Apple has become competitors in many of these markets, and are now using their platform ownership to slant the playing field in their favor.

In the case of Spotify: aside from the fact that Apple Music is a red hot mess, Spotify has superior music discovery features and an easy way for me to interact with my friends and embed playlists in various posts.  At the time, it’s a superior product, but Apple is hiding behind their app store policies to give themselves a competitive advantage in price-point.  Sure users can sign up through the Spotify web site to get avoid the Apple tax, but it’s asinine that even mentioning that through their app prevents the update from being approved.  This “Minister of Truth” garbage makes no sense.

As the app ecosystem has evolved, many legitimate questions have arisen about how app makers can continue to monetize based off their apps.  Now that we’re reaching a saturation point with users, we’re finding out that it’s not sustainable to pay $3 for a Podcast app and expect feature enhancements until the end of time.  I’ve come to accept that in order for apps I love to stay in business, I’ve accepted that I may need to fork over an annual fee for an app like PocketCasts or Tweetbot.  Apple facilitates the platform and should probably maintain their cut. Their new subscription platform does offer some reprieve if users subscribe into their second year. This seems like a fair way to do business.

On the other hand, there are apps, platforms and business models that have developed their own sustainability and are expected to be omnipresent in all computing platforms: Amazon Kindle, Spotify, Netflix, Comixology to name a few.  These apps have their own revenue streams and ultimately the app store doesn’t play a meaningful role in delivering that content to the user.  Apple is just another platform – albeit one of the biggest – in this service’s eco-system.  By forcing these apps to tax their users or simply pretend they don’t sell the content (Comixology does this) and trust that you’ll figure out to go to their web site, Apple demonstrates that they don’t give a crap about your user experience while using this app on their platform – which goes completely against their mantra of simplicity and elegance in their UI.

Then there’s apps that are in all places (e.g. Social Networks), making their money by selling advertising through their own platforms (combined with the user data they can harvest).  I could be wrong, but Apple doesn’t get a share of that ad revenue. In many ways Apple and the social networks have a symbiotic relationship with one another.  I’m pretty sure that for some apps like Facebook, some money has exchanged hands with Apple to get the deep OS integrations – but I don’t believe for a second that the App Store is taking a cut from the ads that Instagram serves me.  How is this different than the content that’s being served up the previously mentioned omnipresent apps?

As much as I’ve enjoyed having the latest and greatest apps on my elegant piece of hardware, the anticompetitive stupidity that results in these awful experiences may ultimately drives away users like me.  What’s 30% of $0 spent, Apple?

June 30, 2016
by Romey
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Baby Girl Turns 3

Happy birthday to the Original Baby Girl, Clara Marie!

Clara Marie

It’s hard to believe that three years have already gone by! It still feels like we were nervously bringing you home for the first time a few days ago.  You’ve taught me so much about life, what it means to love without fear.  You add so much joy into life, and I hope that your kind heart continues to grow.

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June 27, 2016
by Romey
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Girls Rock! (Gig Poster)

Just wanted to share out my latest gig poster design for the recent showcase that Amy and the Peace Pipes took part in at the Downtown Artery.

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One of our goals for this show was to stress that this was a showcase of all three bands, rather than having a headline with supporting acts, so I tried to keep all of the image sizes relatively equal (also working on constraint with the images that I was given).

As you can see there was also a significant amount of information that I had to include in the poster, so I was a bit worried that I may have made things too busy.  Overall I’m pretty pleased with the poster, especially when considering I also had to rush the design a bit.  I’m already looking forward to playing with some more original artwork for the next gig poster.

Band Photography

June 23, 2016
by romeyinfc
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Blue Mesa at the Downtown Artery

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to shoot Blue Mesa when they played with my band at the Downtown Artery.  I was particularly excited for this opportunity as the Artery has a really cool stage layout and lighting displays.  Blue Mesa’s energy made it a lot of fun to shoot, and I was particularly glad that I was able to sneak in through the back to get some drummer shots.  Blue Mesa really put on an awesome show, especially considering that this was their first performance after some major lineup changes! They definitely rocked it and I’m looking forward to playing or shooting them again!