November 27, 2023

Two-Sentence Reviews of Some Gizmos I Got

In celebration of the cyberiest of Mondays (and because I’m apparently not dutiful enough to write full reviews for each of these), here are my brief impressions — née snappy summaries — of some stuff I’ve picked up over the last few months.

[Yes, most of these are affiliate links. But I think we know each other well enough by now that you understand I wouldn’t give a dishonest review of something in an attempt to make pennies off your click. I honestly don’t remember the last time I had an Amazon Affiliate payout.]

NOMAD Stand One MagSafe Dock

This thing looks so sleek on my desk, and works way better than the old Qi charging pad I was using. StandBy mode is pretty sweet too.

Get it →

MagSafe Battery Pack

It’s great for the iPhone mini and has saved my bacon a few times (especially while hiking), but probably not worth it for bigger phones. Because of all the special sauce it gets, I can’t believe Apple discontinued it without a replacement!

Get it →

Furnace Industries Ice Axe Drytooling Picks

Actually, I can’t tell you much about them because I haven’t installed them yet. I was so stoked to get these and use them to train up for ice climbing using my actual ice axe shafts, but then the weather turned cold and I can’t see the point of swapping my ice picks for them since I’m probably just going to start climbing real ice again soon.

Get them →

Mountain Equipment Firefly Jacket

A ridiculously expensive jacket that I could only afford because of my steep employee discount in our gear shop, but I can’t deny that it’s my new favorite jacket. It’s so lightweight and svelte while being completely waterproof that I don’t mind carrying it around as an extra layer just in case of bad weather.

Get it →

Apple Watch Trail Loop Band

After wearing just the one Alpine Loop band for my Apple Watch Ultra for an entire year, I was pretty excited to have a second option. Somehow, it’s even more comfortable than the previous king-of-comfort, the Sport Loop bands, while also being more secure on the wrist.

Get it →

Anker USB Car Charger

I’ve had more need for charging bigger devices in the car, and my old no-name, off-brand 5W charger couldn’t keep up. This one can deliver 30W and doesn’t worry me that it has feeble innards that will either fry my electronics or catch on fire.

Get it →

Cafele 3-in-1 Retractable Charging Cable

I’ve been a big fan of 3-in-1 charging cables that let you power multiple devices at once, but I needed a USB-C one to go with the Anker car charger. With 100W capability and the retractable cable, I think it’ll meet my needs for many years to come and do so while not taking up much counter space or room in my car’s arm rest cubby (yep, I bought two of them).

Get it →

HOU iPad Mini 6 Keyboard Case Folio

I had such high hopes for this thing because it’s such a lightweight and unobtrusive way to always have a keyboard at the ready with the iPad mini. But the keys are just way too small and weirdly laid out that I don’t think I could get use to typing with them.

(Probably don’t) Get it →

Doqo iPad Mini 6 Keyboard Case with Touchpad

If this keyboard were made out of different materials, or dropped some features, to make it lighter, it would a runaway success — a true iPad Pro mini-maker. As it is, the typing experience is pretty good and the trackpad surprisingly excellent, but it’s so heavy that I don’t want to use it as a daily driver.

Get it →

Wemo Stage Controller for HomeKit

You get three functions for each of the three keys for nine(!) different devices or scene automations this remote can run. It’s pretty reliable and doesn’t require a separate app for setup or updates — I just wish it were a little bigger/more substantial.

Get it →

Hansabenne Dehumidifier

Our bathroom doesn’t have a shower fan, or an easy way to install one, so, after hours of research, I found this dehumidifier that (1) can auto-drain, (2) is small and unobtrusive, and, most importantly, (3) can monitor the active humidity level and automatically turn on when it goes above a pre-set level (i.e. when taking a shower). I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by its effectiveness at clearing out the humidity and preventing mold.

Get it →

Tatofy Magic Mouse 2 Grip with Wireless Charging

Such a clever device, trying to kill two birds with one stone: (1) overcome the objectionable bottomside Lightning charging method of the Magic Mouse by adding wireless Qi charging, and (2) give the Magic Mouse more (ergonomic?) substance. Everyone’s hands are different, so your mileage may vary, but mine tends to prefer the lower profile of the naked Magic Mouse even while I applaud their success on the charging mechanism.

Get it →

Continuity Camera MagSafe Mount

This is the gizmo that you didn’t know you needed, and, by golly, it’s flawlessly executed. Stick this thing on the back of your TV and you’ve given yourself a Continuity Camera mount so you can slap your iPhone on your TV for FaceTime calls, but then effortlessly hide it away when not in use.

(Definitely) Get it →

TubShroom Bath Tub Drain Protector

An Instagram ad that got me, but I’m glad it did. It makes cleaning up drain-clogging hair a breeze, even if it doesn’t let water through even when clogged” as effectively as you might hope.

Get it →

SinkShroom Clog-Free Sink Strainer

I saw they had sink versions when researching the TubShroom, and I’d say this version is even better. It does let water drain when when clogged”, it looks good, and, best of all, food particles don’t get hung up on it’s edges when chasing them around this sink with a stream of water.

Get it →

DrainShroom Tub and Sink Snake Auger

Are you catching the theme here? This supposedly easy and efficient drain snake was a big disappointment and I don’t recommend it; just get the real deal instead.

(Really, don’t) Get it →

Hoto Cordless USB-C All-in-One Screwdriver

[Full disclosure, I added this one after publishing because I remembered it after I saw on The Verge that you can get it for 55% off (just $36) right now.]

Where has this screwdriver been all my life?! It houses all the bits in its carrying case, is charged by USB-C, has plenty of power for household screwdriving needs, has a built-in light, and fits in tight places where a traditional drill won’t — what are you waiting for?

Get it →


Great! I got more of my opinions out onto the internet! Just what the world needs. Anyway, that was actually kind of fun to write. You should try it and send your reviews to me. My rampant consumerism hasn’t be sated by Capitalist Hellscape Week, so I need to know what you found that totally, definitely has been (or will be) the missing link to eternal happiness.

Reviews

November 26, 2023

7 Things This Week [#120]

A weekly list of interesting things I found on the internet, posted on Sundays. Sometimes themed, but often not.


1️⃣ Indie App Sales has a list of over 300(!) apps that are providing some sort of discount for the Black Friday shopping event/week. I have a feeling that my digital wallet is about to get a bit lighter… [🔗 app.indieappsales.com]

2️⃣ I’ve enjoyed following along with Matt Birchler’s 365 Albums Project this year. I didn’t often listen to a full album he recommended, but I have been rocking out to the compilation playlist lately. In the moment, I didn’t appreciate his custom header images for the albums. Check out this retrospective post for some superb examples. I’m considering doing something similar next year… [🎵 Matt Birchler // birchtree.me]

3️⃣ I promise you that I do not climb like this. But the sheer audacity of this 9000-foot traverse, not to mention the manner by which these guys completed it, is jaw-dropping in every sense of the phrase. (Oh, and this crag, The Gunks, is kind of in my downstate backyard. I’ve been there a couple of times this month!) [▶️ Well Good Productions // youtube.com]

4️⃣ The thing I love about Chris Sharma is how unassuming his demeanor is. If you can subscribe to Reel Rock to see the full version of this video, I highly recommend it. You see him tackling this bleeding edge climb at the highest difficulty, while also balancing being a father and business owner. It’s so inspiring to see someone do it all. [▶️ REEL ROCK // youtube.com]

5️⃣ My wife and I have been loving Lessons in Chemistry on Apple TV+. Brie Larson is undeniable as Elizabeth Zott. Now Apple has put together a site with key recipes from the show! We’re gonna have to give some of these a try. (Oh my god, there are even premade ingredient carts for Instacart!) [🍽️ Apple TV+ // lessonsinchemistryrecipes.com]

6️⃣ I can’t disagree with any of these sources of awe, and in fact, I agree with all of them. [😮 @pratik // microblog.pratikmhatre.com]

7️⃣ Great, now I have a new pet peeve. Maybe skip this one if you don’t want a new thing to be bothered by. [😤 Mike Crittenden // critter.blog]


Take a Chance


Thanks for reading 7 Things. If you enjoyed these links or have something neat to share, please let me know. And remember that you can get more links to internet nuggets that I’m finding every day by following me @jarrod on the social web.

7 Things

November 24, 2023

Not So Fuzzy Feelings About ‘Fuzzy Feelings’

I wasn’t going to say anything about Apple’s traditional holiday short, but after reading Andy Ihnatko’s dissection of it on Six Colors, I realized I wasn’t the only one put off by it. They’re usually heartwarming, heartfelt, and sweet, but this year’s short fell, well, short for me this year. Andy did a great job summing up the myriad of things that felt off about it. You should go read his whole post, but I’ll call out a few points that stuck out to me as well.

The protagonist’s revenge stop-motion film seemed over the top for the grievances her boss performed against her:

How many weeks did it take her to complete just one of those humiliating scenes? She designed and constructed dolls, props, and sets; she invested lots of money and ingenuity in doing the lighting and rigging; she animated each shot one painsaking frame at a time; and then did all of the editing.

You must agree with me that this is an utterly psychopathic amount of work. It’s very correct to witness this behavior and then fear for that man’s safety out in the real world.

One of those grievances”:

I’ll also point out that one of the little things the boss did that annoyed and angered her was that he noticed that she was very late for work. He communicated his disappointment in a quick, low-key way that drew no attention from the rest of the office. Close examination of the previous scene reveals why she was late that morning: she’d gotten so wrapped up in her whole Torture My Boss By Wooly Proxy project that she’d lost all track of time.

And then, her empathy was far too forthcoming for the supposedly deep-seated dislike she held for him, just because he (wishy-washingly) handed her a handmade gift (that he also gave to the rest of the office), and then she saw him eating alone.

It just felt like too little for her to completely change her mind about the man, after she had clearly spent weeks (months?) imagining his painful humiliation. Andy seems to have felt the same way:

So when the lady in the Fuzzy Feelings” video exercises her empathy only conditionally, after she comes to pity her boss (itself a form of dehumanization), it comes across as… well, not wrong, but definitely odd.

A real gem in Andy’s piece is this declaration about human empathy:

Well, whatever. Empathy is the point of today’s sermon. Empathy requires each of us to never ever forget that we should treat fellow humans like human beings and not human-shaped objects. No exceptions and no excuses.

Simple? Oh, sure. But holy cats, it’s hard to get a consistent grip on the thing, isn’t it? It’s easier to know that we’ve misplaced our empathy than it is to be sure of what we should do with it.

So good that I copied it to my quote journal!

But I don’t really buy Andy’s theory that the protagonist’s capacity for empathy is influenced by the fact she she uses Windows at work and Apple products at home:

So maybe the lady’s capacity for empathy is intact… but her ability to access it is influenced by her environments. When she’s in the office and her boss gives her a gentle rebuke for a legit HR infraction, her proximity to a Microsoft operating system influences her to choose a path of (needle-felted stop-motion) violence.

That’s a little too grasping at straws” for me, but the manufacturer of her work tools was an interesting detail that I hadn’t noticed.

Apple’s had a good run of theses warm and fuzzy holiday shorts. I’m not faulting them too hard for one flop out of many years. I guess I’m just a little surprised that literally the fuzziest one of all didn’t land so well.

Linked

November 23, 2023

Mac Reincarnation Diary: The Plan Pays Off

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for months. Nobody was asking for it, but I feel like I need to end the two-part saga.


All my worries yesterday in July were for naught. The nuke and pave” went very smoothly, certainly as well as anyone could have hoped.

Erasing the Mac was quick, thanks to the encrypted data technology in modern Macs. Getting booted back up into a fresh install of macOS Ventura had but one small hiccup: I needed to do an extra restart for the Mac mini to kick its Wi-fi chip into gear and notice my network. Signing into iCloud to get it to start downloading all of my files and photos was seamless. But the star of the show, for sure, was my Setup a New Mac’ checklist.

A fresh, default macOS Ventura desktop with a Time Machine drive named “TARDIS” in the corner.
The after pic. My Mac mini is sporting a new, fresh soul.

Between all the apps I use on a daily basis, the keyboard shortcuts I’ve built into muscle memory, and long-standing preferences I’ve fine-tuned in System Settings, there were just too many things to trust them to my feeble human memory.

My Mac setup note showing a checklist of preferences to change with screenshots to make it easy.
Maintaining this list has been one of my best preparation moves in years.

So I’ve been curating a list (Apple Note link) of things to set up first when doing a fresh install of macOS. It’s got screenshots of preference panes, links to little hacks, and everything I need to do to make my Mac feel like my Mac.

Since starting fresh, I can say that I’ve noticed an increase in general speediness, and a decrease in app hang-ups, bugs, and general weirdness. It’s not been a dramatic difference, but enough to have one fewer thing nagging at the back of my mind. So…thumbs up, I guess?

Oh, and I haven’t once had to go back for a file in Time Machine. Knocks on wood.

Tips

November 23, 2023

Crashing Clockwise #530: ‘The Noise of the Youth’

Audio narration generated using Shortcuts.

Heyo, it’s so good to be back for my third episode of Clockwise in a row! Has any other guest ever had such an honor?

I’m getting pretty used to the idea that you all just ignore my answers, and you know what? I can just roll with it! Let’s hop to it.

⏲️⏲️⏲️

Mikah Sargent: If you had to choose between noise cancellation or excellent audio quality — you can’t have both! — which would you choose and why?

This is an easy one. My hearing is so poor that high-fidelity audio is lost on me. Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate good audio, and I love how my AirPods Max sound, but when we start talking about lossless audio, I don’t think it would make a difference to my ears.

But noise cancellation is something that makes a big difference for me. I use it when vacuuming or doing other loud chores, or just when I need to block everything else and concentrate. Our house doesn’t offer much in the way of noise isolation — at this very moment I can hear my wife’s phone conversation while she’s down in the living room and I’m upstairs in the study — so having the ability to shrink down my world for concentration is key.

⏲️⏲️⏲️

Doc Rock: If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be and how would it change the world or your life? Money and time are off the table.

I’m going to go with a potentially boring answer here: clean, fresh water at any temperature of my choosing. I’m cheating a little bit here. This was a similar ice-breaker question that I was asked at my run club earlier this fall, except, in that scenario, the unlimited supply of whatever we chose would shoot out of our fingers. I spend a lot of my time as a mountain guide thinking about when, where, and how I’ll next get clean water for drinking and cooking. And water is heavy to carry. If I could have an unlimited supply of water that appeared on demand, I could save mental energy, ache on my back, and all the time it takes to filter it in the backcountry.

Honorable mention (but potentially disqualified) answers:

1️⃣ Cash. Have you ever realized that you could get each denomination of US dollars to shoot out of each one of your fingers to make exact change every time?

  1. Hundreds
  2. Fifties
  3. Twenties
  4. Tens
  5. Fives
  6. Ones
  7. Quarters
  8. Dimes
  9. Nickels
  10. Pennies

Coincidence? I think not!

2️⃣ Silly String. Come on, that would just be fun!

3️⃣ Spaghetti and sauce. I could eat that for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and always be happy.

⏲️⏲️⏲️

Dan Moren: Will Apple’s adoption of RCS change anything in the world of cross-platform messaging, or is this just lip service to avoid litigation from large governments?

I do think that RCS on iPhones will improve the quality of inter-platform chats. People flee to other services when they don’t get the features they want. If RCS delivers on its promise of better group chats, higher-quality media messages, read receipts, and the assurance that messages do get delivered, I think that there will be less need for a fractured chatting environment. Maybe more people will be able to rely on the default Messages app.

Or maybe folks have already been trained to go to other messaging apps to meet those needs and nothing will change. But I can’t imagine that RCS will make anything worse, there’s only upside.

⏲️⏲️⏲️

James Thomson: Have you bought anything or seen any particularly good deals (from Capitalist Hellscape Week) that you would recommend to our fine, discerning listeners?

I haven’t been much of a Black Friday shopper the last few years, and I haven’t kept up with any major deals so far this year. What I have done, though, is save a couple of shopping carts on Amazon and elsewhere online to check for discounts tomorrow on items I was already going to buy. I had been ready to pull the trigger on some Lutron Caseta switches for our home earlier this week. But I remembered, just in the nick of time, that there might be some deals to be had on Friday. 🤞

Oh! I almost forgot, there’s an amazing site cataloging indie apps (over 300!) that have huge discounts this week: app.indieappsales.com

⏲️⏲️⏲️

Bonus Question: You have been chosen to represent your country in a global competition. What sport, talent, or activity are you doing?

Hard to say. I might place well in the most side tangents and distractions explored while trying to complete a simple task’ event.

⏲️⏲️⏲️

My Question: What’s your go-to discovery method for new music?

I don’t typically go to the Music app itself for new music discovery. I know there are some great genre playlists and radio stations there, all lovingly organized by the Apple Music human curation team. But most of my discovery comes from recommendations I find from friends and acquaintances. If someone recommends a new album, it gets saved to MusicBox for me to check out later. But I also get good usage out of my automatically-generated Friends Mix playlist for songs that are out of my usual jurisdiction. It’s refreshed with songs that people I follow on Apple Music are listening to each week.

If I do find an artist that piques my interest, I’ll seek out their Essentials playlist on Apple Music to get a better look at their discography. Those are pretty great.

⏰⏰⏰

These topics are always such brain ticklers. It’s so much fun to explore new ideas with you all. Thanks for having me on, and I’ll see you next week!

Crashing Clockwise

November 22, 2023

A Few Rambly Thoughts About Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour Movie

I went into the Taylor Swift Eras Tour movie expecting something along the lines of Hamilton. A well-produced video capture of a live event. And, I suppose, that is what I got. But what I hadn’t anticipated was the awe-inspiring, mind-boggling creative production that was this concert — if you can even call it a concert.

Taylor Swift is at the top of her game. It was quite the thing to be reminded of the breadth of her discography. Her mastery of songwriting has only grown over time, and she’s an intricate wordsmith. These are things that I already knew, but re-appreciated during the film.

I hadn’t realized what a commanding performer she is. That stage was all hers from the very first beat. Every movement was measured, rehearsed, and then executed with extreme precision. It was almost uncomfortable at first being confronted with something so obviously calculated. It felt somewhat antithetical to the idea of seeing a creative artist live. But then I realized that this is just what Taylor Swift does. She sets a goal and then pursues it relentlessly until it is perfect. Why would her self-funded, self-distributed show be any different?

In the end, I came to enjoy watching and being amazed by such a precise performance. The details of its production were astonishing. The seamless costume changes and transitions. The elegantly-styled microphones that matched each Era’s theme. What I wouldn’t give to see a rundown of the logistics behind this show.

What I think I enjoyed most, even beyond the absolutely top-tier and cutting edge production, was that it was so obvious that Taylor was having fun from beginning to end.

She’s set a new bar with the Eras Tour. And I can’t even imagine who could top it.

Music Movies

November 21, 2023

Letters with Kev, November 2023 [#2]

Here’s my latest exchange with Kev Quirk for the Letters project this month. You can follow along with our conversation here here, but you owe it to yourself to see the awesome email styling that he’s done over on his site.

Jarrod’s and Kev’s avatars separated by the letter emoji and their website domains, heydingus.net and kevquirk.com, below their images.
(Image inspiration: Jose Munoz)

Hey Jarrod,

Finally getting around to emailing you back, right at the end of the week…your email was a long one and I want to make sure I hit each point, so I’ve done some inline quotes with the answers. Hope that’s ok - makes things a little easier for my brain to parse.

I think I first discovered you and your site on Micro.blog, which I think is where you hosted it before moving to Kirby, right?

I never actually hosted my site on Micro.blog. I did use their service for what was basically a cross-poster for the kind of posts I tend to post on Mastodon - shorter thoughts that are ephemeral. I think cross-posted to a few places from Micro.blog. I ended up killing the account though, mainly because there wasn’t much value in it for me. BlueSky offers very little for me, so that just left Mastodon.

I would have never hosted my blog there because I really dislike Hugo, and I don’t think Micro.blog gives enough freedom for blogging.

I’m currently on a Blot site and it gives me just enough control to keep me both tinkering and happy. But the draw of migrating fully over to Micro.blog is so tempting to have everything all in one place. Gah, I can’t decide.

You might have already guessed, given my previous answer, but I’d say stick with Blot. That’s where I hosted my blog before moving to Kirby. The only reason I moved away from Blot is that Kirby seems to be Perfect for my use case. I continue to really enjoy it. For example, I built a custom UI for these PenPal posts where I paste both our emails into separate boxes, and the template does the rest. Kirby really is great.

So yeah, if you’re gonna move away from Blot, my advice would be to move to Kirby. But if you’re happy with Blot, I’d say stay there.

I’m approaching my 30th birthday, but still feel like a kid most days.

I’m 40 on my next birthday, and I still feel exactly the same.

I work as a Mountain Guide, but have also been a Scout Camp Director professionally.

That’s really cool, and a really nice digression from the usual developers that tend to run in the circles we run in. Both of my sons are in Scouts and the both absolutely love it - and we love it when they go away to camp and we get some much needed downtime. :-)

It seems like there’s a TONNE of work that goes into managing a Scout group, is that right?

I have big aspirations, but am still working out how I’m going to achieve them all.

Come on, man. Don’t leave me hanging…what are those aspirations? It’s funny how things work themselves out. I’ve always been very career-minded, which has motivated me to do well in my career so far. But I often wondered if it was possible to find a balance between being career-minded and being present for my family. Luckily I’ve been able to find a balance…long may it continue.

Your mowing woes had me worried for the mower.

The woes are ongoing. I need to do some more repairs to it over the winter, but I’m currently renovating the garage, so it will have to wait a little bit. It needs a whole new steering column. Ultimately, it’s not really up to the task, but we can’t afford a bigger mower right now (they’re stupidly expensive) so the poor little guy will have to keep on chuggin’ for a while yet.

Hopefully, the livestock idea works out to keep those fields under control! But I didn’t realize you had all that going on with the zoo of animals. I imagine things are quite lively at the Quirk household.

Things can get pretty crazy here with all the animals. I’m in the lounge writing this email and my wife is currently doing a water change on one of our 4 aquariums. I’ll do the others a little later, then I need to walk the dogs and apply another coat of paint to the floor of my garage…busy times, and this doesn’t include the kids and chickens.

We keep flip-flopping on the livestock idea. We recently found out there’s a natural spring at the top of our larger field, so we’re thinking about putting a pond in there and seeding the field with wildflowers, then having it like a little wildflower meadow. That way there will be lots of wildlife in there some summer, and it we will be able to leave it alone.

We shall see…

I feel like my hands are full enough with no kids, one dog, one cat, and a turtle, minimal property maintenance (although that’s picking up now that we’ve purchased our first home), and just a bunch of side hobbies.

I used to think that too when it was just the 3 of us (wife, 1 dog and me) but you’d be surprised how much time you can fine when you really need to. Things are busy, but it’s fun busy, not overwhelmingly, if that makes sense? I’m learning so much in this process as I’ve never done anything like this before, so it keeps things interesting.

I’m curious about how blogging, running a Mastodon server, and web design interface with what you do for work. My job in the outdoor field keeps me off the computer enough of the time that it’s exciting to stretch those muscles and interests in my off time. Is the day-to-day of cybersecurity different enough from tinkering with your own code that it’s still fun to continue to monkey around on the computer when the workday is through?

Anyone who reads this blog will know that I rarely write about cyber security, and when I do, it’s usually at a very high level. That’s how I personally separate the 2. This blog is my hobby, cyber is my job, and although they’re both computer based, they’re also very different.

I try to get away from my desk during the working day as much as I can. For example, if I have a 1:1 with one of my team in the office, we will go for a walk around the campus instead of sitting in a meeting room. If the weather is nice, I’ll go out for a walk during my lunch break and when I work from home, I take the dogs for a walk.

Most of my actual work these days is meetings, so it’s easy for me to get away from my desk for a good portion of the day. So when I sit down down to write, not only is it often on a topic that’s completely separate to my day-to-day, I’m also relatively fresh.

Anyway, how did you get into watches, and what do you look for now that you’re a more experienced collector?

The watches thing is a combination of nostalgia and just geekiness. I remember pining over Casio watches when I was a kid, but never being able to afford one. So I got myself a basic Casio as a beater watch a few years ago, then I discovered the sheer breadth of watches they offer, so I bought more, and more and more. I now have around 50 watches from various brands in my collection.

There’s 3 types of watch that pique my interest:

  1. Nostalgic watches, like my Casios
  2. Military / field watches
  3. Watches that I just like the look of

After these 3, the next thing I look for is value for money. I could have a small collection of Rolex, Omega etc. but I’d much rather have a larger collection of cheaper watches. Plus, having a watch on my write that’s thousands of £ would really worry me. My most expensive watch was around £700, so although I’d be pissed if I lost or damaged it, I wouldn’t be out thousands.

I also enjoy the ritual of choosing a watch in the morning. I have them all in display cases on the window ledge in my bedroom; looking through them and choosing one just gives me joy every day. Here’s what the collection looks like:

Kev’s six cases of traditional wristwatches.
(Image: Kev Quirk)

I wear an Apple Watch and have had one on my wrist every day for over 7 years now. I upgraded to the Ultra version last year and adore it.

Before getting back into watches I wore an Apple Watch (which my wife now wears). I did like it, but I didn’t like how much I checked it for notifications. When I first took it off, I’d find myself instinctively looking at my wrist and tapping my watch. It was sad. I now find it frustrating when people check their wrist in the middle of a conversation too.

Do you worry about the addictive nature of having a little smartwatch on your wrist?

Oh, and I recommend the Bear Blog Trending Posts feed for an eclectic mix of popular posts on that service. Jason Kottke’s site is another gold mine for new people to follow.

I subscribe to both these already. There’s some great content that comes from both.

I’ll end this extremely long email with a question to you…are there any blogs you follow that have nothing to do with what we’ve covered already? No tech, no outdoorsman stuff etc? Is there anything that’s completely random that you follow?

Now I’m off to go paint the garage again so (hopefully) I can start working on my motorbikes again soon. Looking forward to our next exchange,

Kev


Hey Kev,

I didn’t quite get to it by the week’s end, but your letter gave me a lot to think about. And I liked the inline quotes, I might give that a shot too.

I would have never hosted my blog there because I really dislike Hugo, and I don’t think Micro.blog gives enough freedom for blogging.

You’ve mentioned a couple of times that you’re not a fan of Micro.blog/Hugo for a personal blog. I’m curious about what you find so limiting. I’ve done Squarespace and Blot (Mustache), and only just learning about other static site generators out there.

Both of my sons are in Scouts and the[y] both absolutely love it - and we love it when they go away to camp and we get some much needed downtime. :-)

Haha, yeah, camp can be a blessing for all. I loved my summers growing up where I got to spend a week (as a camper) and then a whole summer (as a staff member) away from home. It’s where I learned to make decisions and take care of myself since my parents weren’t there to do it. I grew a lot there. I hope your kids find that they grow into themselves there too.

It seems like there’s a TONNE of work that goes into managing a Scout group, is that right?

For sure. For many things, it was a one-man show. I had to do program development, fundraising, budgeting, property maintenance, purchase food and supplies, hire and fire…the list goes on. And that’s all before any kids showed up! For the events themselves when I had either a staff or a team of volunteers, my role changed to supporting them to implement all the fun stuff — although it was important to me to lead by example and sing the songs and do all the stuff that I was asking others to do. That role was a crash course in figuring out how to do a little of everything.

But that’s from the camp-specific side of things. Actually being a local Scout group leader, in many ways, is much harder. My campers all went home at the end of the week. In a Troop or Pack, you’re in it for the long haul with all your Scouts. Being that role model and helping them to be successful in the program and achieve their goals takes a special kind of person. Do you ever volunteer as an adult leader in the Scouts?

Come on, man. Don’t leave me hanging…what are those aspirations?

Well, since you asked. 😉 I would love to open a local climbing gym. There’s a decent population of dedicated climbers here, but no real home base” for them to go to. Granted, many are outdoor climbing purists, but the weather’s not always good. And we could all use a place to train, swap stories, and hang out (literally). Plus, there are plenty of tourists coming through looking for an indoor activity to do when it rains.

My wife and I have also talked about the need for a doggy daycare service in our area. So many people have dogs here, but, again, there’s no great place for them to go during the day. I think it would be fun to operate the climbing gym and dog daycare together. Stop by to pick your dog up in the evening, and get a few climbing laps in! I think it would expose more people to the sport too.

And, as part of that business, I’d want to offer my own guiding service. I’m working on getting into a course progression that would certify me as an internationally recognized rock guide. But that progression is a very long, very expensive one.

Really, all those goals are very long and very expensive. But I continue to dream and scheme.

We keep flip-flopping on the livestock idea. We recently found out there’s a natural spring at the top of our larger field, so we’re thinking about putting a pond in there and seeding the field with wildflowers, then having it like a little wildflower meadow.

My grandparents’ property has a man-made pond. It was always a favorite place to go during the warm summers for swimming and fishing. And so peaceful to see the wildlife use it, too. Go for it!

I used to think that too when it was just the 3 of us (wife, 1 dog and me) but you’d be surprised how much time you can fine when you really need to.

There’s a mantra that Elizabeth Zott says in Lessons in Chemistry (which my wife and I are watching) about raising a child that I think is applicable here. You don’t think that you can do it, and then you expand, and you do it anyway.”

For example, if I have a 1:1 with one of my team in the office, we will go for a walk around the campus instead of sitting in a meeting room.

Walking meetings are the best. I find it difficult to think clearly if I’m not moving around. If I’m on the phone, I’m probably pacing around my house while talking. I’m glad that you’re able to separate your work life and personal hobbies to keep both fresh, even though they’re in related fields.

I now have around 50 watches from various brands in my collection.

Wow! That collection sprung up fast. I figured it had been a lifelong interest, but it sounds like you only picked up that first Casio a handful of years ago. That it got started with one that you’d wanted since being a kid is pretty sweet. I like the breadth of your collection there. It looks like you have one that would fit for nearly any occasion! Your pragmatic approach of more less expensive watches, rather than fewer costly ones, makes sense to me.

My next question, though, is how do you keep them all synced up? Do you have to make adjustments often, like every time you put a new one on after a time change? Or do you spend the time to get them all in sync at once?

Do you worry about the addictive nature of having a little smartwatch on your wrist?

Not so much. It’s a pretty passive device for me. I’m self-conscious about looking too busy to be engaged in a conversation and will always wait to check it. I do like the notifications though, since they keep me from diving into my phone where I’m more likely to get sucked into something else. The phone is much more addictive for me. But I love the workout tracking and the little bits of data I get from it. For example, it’s helpful to keep an eye on the current elevation when I’m out hiking with clients. I can pass along encouragement for every hundred feet of elevation gained.

[A]re there any blogs you follow that have nothing to do with what we’ve covered already?

You know, I was tempted to give an emphatic Yes, so many!”, because I follow a bunch of personal blogs. But, I’ve picked up a lot of those personal blogs from Micro.blog or Mastodon, which both attract folks with a certain amount of at least tech-adjacent interests.

However, I do follow the RSS feeds for One Sentence News (world news, distilled down to bite-size chunks), the Studio Neat Gazette (one weekly pick of something interesting from each of the cofounders, Tom and Dan), and some comic strips (The Oatmeal and xkcd). I look forward to all of those popping up my feed reader.

Now, if you had asked me about podcasts, I would have a more broader library of topics to choose from. Are you a podcast listener?

The time has gotten away from me, so it looks like I won’t be attending this week’s Run Club. But that’s okay since it’s basically blizzarding outside, and I have groceries to go pick up for Thanksgiving this week anyway. Looking forward to hearing back!

Take care,

Jarrod

Letters

November 21, 2023

Got your PlayStation plugged into Ethernet? You might still be getting Wi-Fi speeds. Here’s how to fix it.

You know how sometimes you stumble across bits of information that feel like they were packaged up just for you? That’s what happened to me yesterday when listening to AppStories and Federico Viticci solved an internet problem I didn’t even realize I was looking for a solution to.

Yup, that’s me. Over three years ago, I plugged my wife’s PS5 into Ethernet and ignorantly assumed that it would swap over to the hardwired connection. Our Wi-Fi speeds were pretty fast, so when she downloaded games and I could see the progress bar visibly moving, I assumed all was working correctly. But there were times that I noticed lag (like when using PS Remote Play), or was surprised by the time it took to download even smaller updates to the device. But I thought it was already using Ethernet, so what could I do?

Enter this new age thought technology: actually check the goddamn settings. 😅 Less than a minute of futzing through the network settings, and now the PlayStation is getting 6x — that’s right, six times — the download speed. Probably the most valuable seconds per Mbps increase I’ve ever invested.

Here’s how you can futz through the settings yourself and hopefully get a massive increase in speed to your console as well.

Settings → Network → Connection Status

Playstation Networks setting screen showing that it’s connected to a Wi-Fi network called “JandJ”
Why you no Ethernet?

Look-ey here. Even though it’s got an Ethernet cable plugged into its butt, the PS5 thinks the Wi-Fi is the way to go. Nuh-uh. Next stop, Network → Settings → Set Up Internet Connection’ to initiate the Ethernet connection.

But before you fire up that Ethernet connection, go ahead and do a speed test on Wi-Fi so you know what kinds of gains you get afterward.

Speed test showing only 80.8 Mbps of download speed.
Slooooooow.

80 Mbps?! Yeah, something’s not right here when I’m paying for a 500 Mbps pipeline to the modem it’s hooked directly into.

Start up a LAN

Over in Set Up Internet Connection’, you’re going to make a new connection and select the Wired LAN option. This threw me off for a second. I wasn’t trying to set up a LAN Party where my buddies could bring over their consoles and we could string them all together for a Halo showdown. Would this LAN setting know to actually connect with the broader internet? Did I need to name it the same as my Wi-Fi network?

Playstation screenshot of setting up a Wired LAN.
Could it really be this simple?

I needn’t have worried. It just worked. I did end up naming it JandJ Ethernet’ just so I’d know exactly what the connection was, but I don’t think it matters what you name the network at all.

Speed Test

Okay, back over in the Connection Status’ pane, we can see that the Ethernet connection has now taken precedence. It retains the Wi-Fi network in its memory, which is good I guess, but hopefully, we never have to use it again.

Playstation screenshot of the network setting showing it’s connected to the wired ‘JandJ Ethernet’ network.
Why didn’t it just do this in the first place?

Let’s do a new speed test to make sure things are hooked up right.

Playstation speed test showing over 500 Mbps download speed while connected to ethernet.
Yahoo!

There’s that 500+ Mbps I was looking (and paying) for!

That’s it!

The PS5 should be feeling better now that it’s not trying to sip data through a kiddie straw. Now it’s punching a hole in the side of those data beers, cracking open the top, and shotgunning megabytes down its gullet at warp speed. Wow, that analogy about an Ethernet cable in its butt really doesn’t work now, does it? 😂

I did a real-world test and a large game update zipped through its download faster than ever before on this console. Success.

Hopefully, you see those same massive gains in connection speed. And, Sony, if you’re reading along, maybe consider prioritizing the wired connection automatically when one is plugged in. I can guarantee that’s what your users expect.

Tips

November 19, 2023

7 Things This Week [#119]

A weekly list of interesting things I found on the internet, posted on Sundays. Sometimes themed, often not.


1️⃣ I might have to get me one of these classic Mac hello” signs. It’s so diminutive and cute! [🔗 @camiel // schoonens.social]

2️⃣ In Review is a gorgeous new movie, TV, and book review blog written by Alexandra. Excellent design choices made here. [🔗 Alexandra // inreview.ca]

3️⃣ You can totally see space tools left behind by astronauts with just binoculars, which is wild! [🔗 Robert Lea // livescience.com] (Via Jason Kottke)

4️⃣ You’re not gonna want to miss this example of a program that uses AI vision and speech generation to have David Attenborough narrate a live webcam view. [🔗 Benj Edwards // arstechnica.com]

5️⃣ Gav and Dan with a very relatable slow-mo scene. 😂 [🔗 The Slow Mo Guys // youtube.com]

6️⃣ If you’re a Mastodon (or Micro.blog or ActivityPub…I should just say social web”) user, you should follow the (unofficial) @merlinwisdom@botsin.space. It’s an account that spits out a random entry from Merlin Mann’s Wisdom Project (which I’ve mentioned before) every six hours. I’ve used Shortcuts and widgets to surface these in the past, but there’s something to be said for them just popping up in a feed I’m already reading. [🔗 @merlinwisdom // botsin.space]

7️⃣ Count me in for Todd Vaziris Apple TV remote redesign proposal. I haven’t been particularly annoyed at my remote lately, but can’t deny that this would be an improvement. [🔗 Todd Vaziri // fxrant.blogspot.com]


Take a Chance


Thanks for reading 7 Things. If you enjoyed these links or have something neat to share, please let me know. And remember that you can get more links to internet nuggets that I’m finding every day by following me @jarrod on the social web.

7 Things

November 17, 2023

Crashing Clockwise #529: ‘Dear Tim Apple, You Fix It’

Audio narration generated using Shortcuts.

Hey guys, thanks for having me back on this 529th episode of Clockwise! I didn’t hear my audio get into the podcast last time; maybe my track was muted? Anyway, I’m happy to be part of the conversation here on these four five tech topics.

⏱️⏱️⏱️

Dan Moren: Do you have any plans to start capturing spatial video even if a Vision Pro may not be in your immediate future?

I would love to capture spatial videos for viewing on a Vision Pro whenever I get one. I think having that extra data will be useful in the long run, and I think it’ll be a worthwhile trade-off for those videos to be 1080p rather than 4K for the time being. Surely Apple is working on upping those specs and having a vertical video mode.

The only problem is that I’m currently rocking an iPhone 13 mini, and don’t have any plans to replace it. Spatial video capture could push me towards upgrading, but certainly not before there’s a Vision Pro in my possession.

Maybe next September’s iPhones will be the ones to finally tempt me away from the mini form factor. (Or Apple could bring it back and include spatial video capture on that device too. That sure would be great.)

⏱️⏱️⏱️

Joe Rosensteel: Does anyone have strong opinions about the fonts that they use for work or note-taking in their lives?

I’m typing out this very blog post in Drafts, where I changed the default font to whatever monospace version it has built-in (it’s Menlo). For text and Markdown files, I prefer a (read: any) monospace font. Otherwise, I’m a big fan of the San Francisco typeface and its variants, so I will typically choose them if given the option.

I’m pretty basic in that regard. But I do appreciate good fonts, expertly used.

⏱️⏱️⏱️

Mikah Sargent: Have you ever used or do you currently use a journaling app or service? And how long have/did you stick with it if you do/did?

I’ve tried the journalling thing several times, but it’s never stuck. I’ve primarily tried Day One, but I’ve also done a few stints with the Theme System Journal. I still haven’t filled the first one that I started years ago, and although I like Day One’s prompts, I’ve not been able to make journalling a habit.

I’ll certainly give Apple’s Journal app a shot, but I’m not expecting a miracle here.

(I’m not counting the automatic import of my Instagram posts, blog posts, and New York Times newspaper covers as journaling, even though those do all make it into Day One. It would be hard to give that automatic archive up if I were to make the switch over to Apple’s app.)

⏱️⏱️⏱️

Kathy Campbell: When do you tell your non-tech people in your life to update the software of their devices and do you make different recommendations for different devices?

I used to be so bad about this. And by bad” I mean that I was a monster about pushing people to update to the latest OS. I would let my wife that a new update was available pretty much as soon as it came out in September (I was probably already on the beta). Then, if she didn’t update on her own within a few days, I would do it for her. Cringe. There were a couple of times that something moved, was removed, or just generally different enough that it disrupted her day, and she was not pleased.

I’ve stopped doing that.

Now, I’ll generally not say a word and let the news reach her organically. Or, if there’s a particularly handy feature in the new version, I’ll show her on my phone, and then if, and only if, she asks about how to do it, I’ll let her know that she’d have to update to get it. This sometimes happens throughout the beta period, giving her a stack of reasons to update in the fall.

My parents, on the other hand, routinely ask me to audit their devices when I’m home to make sure that they’re up-to-date. They’re getting better about doing it on their own, but I think they appreciate having someone on hand to help them figure out the new stuff, or fix the broken stuff if needed.

In general, I now try to practice the art of not interfering with other people’s lives when they haven’t asked for it and it doesn’t affect me. Folks can choose for themselves if they want to update their stuff, and choosing not to do so is totally fine too.

To come completely clean, though, I will say that if my wife has already updated to a major OS version and then a security patch comes out later, I’ll make sure that her devices get that patch. I feel like that’s just good looking out, and is rarely disruptive.

⏱️⏱️⏱️

Bonus Question: What was your favorite playground structure to play on as a kid?

I was always a big fan of the monkey bars. The classic ones, and the ones that formed a sort of dome structure, were always so fun to swing around on. I was also known to push my luck from time to time by getting on top of the monkey bars to crawl or walk across.

I suppose it’s no wonder that I still love to climb and swing around on things.

⏱️⏱️⏱️

My Question: It’s getting to be wintertime here in the Northeast, and I’ve been scheming about what I’m going to do to fill the short days and long nights. What are your winter objectives this year?

This summer, my objective was to rock climb the intimidating and remote Wallface big wall, located in the heart of the Adirondacks. Which I did! 🎉

But I don’t have one big, overarching goal that I’m set on yet for the winter. There are a couple of fuzzy goals that I’ll aim toward: do my first ice climbing lead and maybe complete the arduous Johannsen’s Last Call backcountry ski by the end of the season. But both of those things will depend on how confident I feel in my abilities, and will take significant time investments to build up skills.

I think I can do them, and I’m going to try, but I’m still considering if there’s something else that I can really sink my teeth into and keep me motivated throughout the cold days.

⏰⏰⏰

Another fun one in the can. Now I’m watching the clock say that it’s pushing past 2 AM and it’s time to go have a long visit with my pillow. Thanks again for having me on!

Crashing Clockwise Podcasts