April 2, 2024

PenPaling With Valerie: Ramadan Updates, Crampons, Photoblogging, and More on Worldly Travel

From my latest exchange with Valerie V.:

You said, posting a photo every day is quite a commitment”. Yes, I used to think of my blog as posting a picture every day”. But now I think of it as posting a picture for each day”. There are no consequences if I miss a day, or don’t have any [good] pictures for a day, or just want to share a photo from the past that I never posted. It takes the pressure off of my blog needing to be a perfect track record of everything I’ve ever done at that exact time, and keeps it more about just fun, interesting or weird things that I want to share.

It tickles me to chat with people whose day-to-day lives are so different than mine, and yet invariably find how very much we always have in common.

PenPals


March 31, 2024

7 Things (Which Are My Favorite Routes I Climbed in Red Rocks) This Week [#138]

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


I was in Las Vegas all week — not to gamble, but to climb in the beautiful Red Rocks Conservation Area. It was an incredible week of climbing and descending very big rocks in the desert canyons with my buddy. They were long days, all of them, so I didn’t do much internet browsing. Here are some of my favorite routes I climbed instead.

1️⃣ Lady Luck (5.6, 7 pitches, 1000 feet)

2️⃣ Peaches (5.7, 1 pitch, 120 feet)

3️⃣ Stand Dumb and Speak Not (5.7, 1 pitch, 80 feet)

4️⃣ Kibbles n bits (5.8-, 2 pitches, 190 feet)

5️⃣ Man’s Best Friend (5.7, 2 pitches, 180 feet)

6️⃣ Motorcycle Mama (5.6, 1 pitch, 90 feet)

7️⃣ Johnny Vegas (5.7, 4 pitches, 450 feet) linked with Going Nuts (5.6, 2 pitches, 300 feet)


52 Albums Project

No Matter Where You Are by Us The Duo (2014) — #13/52

I know I shared an Us The Duo album just a few weeks ago, but they’ve been on my mind since learning that they’re no longer together as husband and wife. It sounds like they’ll continue to produce music together, but just as friends (and co-parents) and not as a married couple. Kind of a shock.

Anyway, this is one of my favorite albums from them and contains a song (“Make You Mine”) which was this close to being my wife’s and my first dance song. Great stuff from start to finish.

Follow along on the 52 Albums Project page where I’m making some playlists for you.


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 52 Albums


March 31, 2024

Micro.blog is becoming the fabric of the open social web of your dreams

Manton Reece, creator of Micro.blog, with some pretty momentous news on this Easter Sunday:

Some folks on Micro.blog who also actively use Bluesky have noticed something new we’ve been rolling out over the last couple of days: Micro.blog will now look for replies on Bluesky to your blog posts, bringing them into the Micro.blog timeline. This transforms Micro.blog into a base platform to manage even more of your social interactions.

Micro.blog has long supported cross-posting to a Bluesky account, but now it’ll look for replies to those cross-posts and bring them into Micro.blog as native mentions, which allows for this:

Now you reply to the Bluesky post directly within Micro.blog. Micro.blog copies your reply back to Bluesky seamlessly.

Rather than being a one-way train out to Bluesky, Manton has built a railway back, allowing two-way travel between your blog and your Bluesky account. It’s even more of the social web’s Grand Central Station than ever!

I’d love to see this interoperability come to its Mastodon/Threads support too. It’s less necessary for those platforms since they work with ActivityPub, which Micro.blog does natively. (I don’t have a true” Mastodon account but can follow and interact with Mastodon users from within Micro.blog using my @jarrod@micro.blog address, as well as follow Threads accounts with it.) But some people would prefer to have a real” Mastodon and/or Threads account to get full functionality out of those platforms. Having everything flow back to your blog, even from those platforms, would be pretty cool.

Here’s the bottom line, and one of the reasons I love Micro.blog best despite its quirks and bugs:

Micro.blog is effectively a universal timeline for not just Micro.blog but also ActivityPub, Bluesky, and other services. We want to make the web a little better by encouraging people to post to their own blog while still being connected to friends. That means embracing open platforms wherever they are.

Manton Reece is building the open social web he wants to see in the world, and I’m all for it.

Linked


March 24, 2024

Scott Yu-Jan’s Macintosh Studio

I know I just shared a bunch of links in 7 Things, but then I saw this video from Scott Yu-Jan. WOW! He 3D-printed a case for the Mac Studio in the style of the original Macintosh, with a slot in the front to hold an iPad mini for the screen. As Yu-Jan says in the video, it gives his iPad mini a new purpose when not in tablet-mode as an external display for his Mac (much like Federico Viticci’s MacPad) with the added benefit that now it’s always charged when he takes it on the go.

A vintage-style computer on a desk with the word ‘Macintosh’ overlaid on the left and ‘Studio’ on the right.
Image credit: Scott Yu-Jan

Oh, and the pull out drawer for storage, headphone hook, and cord slots are just chef’s kiss.

It’s the perfect intersection of nostalgic desk trinket and kick-ass functional tool. As an M1 Mac Mini user, that tease about a version for its smaller case certainly also has my attention. 👀

As an aside, I was as transfixed by Yu-Jan’s cinematography as I was by the product — it’s beautiful! He artfully captured the design, printing, and assembly of the casing, and told a compelling story all in a tight eight minutes. Nice.

(Via The Verge)

Linked


March 24, 2024

7 Things This Week [#137]

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


1️⃣ Blogroll.social is a new site from Dave Winer with a neat way to display a blogroll: sorted by more recently updated. Blogrolls are cool again! [🔗 blogroll.social]

2️⃣ I don’t record a lot of videos of myself, but if I did I’d be very tempted to get this auto-tracking dock that Belkin made to work with the iPhone’ DockKit. Stephen Robles gives a great overview in this video, and it’s pretty charming to see the little robot arm swing the phone around to keep faces in frame. 🤖 [🔗 Stephen Robles // youtube.com]

3️⃣ Playing chess via brain implant. The future is wild. [🔗 @pronounced_kyle // twitter.com]

4️⃣ Old-school lighters had so much more personality and functionality. I want them badly. [🔗 @histoireduneflamme // tiktok.com] (Via Todd Vaziri)

5️⃣ I guarantee you’re not ready for this site. 🤯 [🔗 henryheffernan.com] (Via Keenan)

6️⃣ Credit where it’s due, Humane seems to have taken criticism of their over-serious demeanor to heart. This latest demo video is far more casual and fun. Not as fun as the Rabbit R1, and still without a lot of personality, but a step in the right direction. There’s a lot to digest here, but my impression is that this interface may be better served by glasses and/or watch hardware. It’s very early days, though, and I’m intrigued to see where this technology goes. [🔗 humane // youtube.com]

7️⃣ LinkTalk is a fascinating idea for a very different sort of social network. [🔗 Jatan Mehta // journal.jatan.space]


52 Albums Project

Kind of Blue by Miles Davis (1959) — #12/52

It’s not very original to select one of the quintessential jazz albums as one that’s influential or important specifically to me. And yet. When I was a wee seventh grader, still learning my way around the trumpet and with dreams of joining the Ionia Middle School Jazz Band, Miles Davis is to whom I turned to get a feel for swing and blues. I don’t think I even knew at the time that he was the jazz trumpet guy. I just searched iTunes for jazz trumpet, Miles Davis popped up, I clicked Buy”, and started listening on repeat.

I would later transcribe and play So What” as a class assignment, so it has an exceedingly high play count as I would play along, scrubbing back and forth trying to nail the notes and style. Miles Davis’ music opened the door to learning about getting behind the beat and how one could infuse emotion and personality into every note.

I don’t listen to as much jazz these days, but I do find that it makes for excellent music to have on to get my creative juices flowing. I can’t listen to lyrics when I’m reading, writing, or focusing on something — but a little soft jazz gets things flowing.

So, yes, I’m going with Kind of Blue as one of my go-to jazz albums. An unoriginal, but absolutely essential choice.

Follow along on the 52 Albums Project page where I’m making some playlists for you.


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 52 Albums


March 22, 2024

My Wishes for AirPods (4th gen)

This isn’t a novel thing to say, but I’m a big fan of AirPods. I’ve named them as my most transformational tech product in the past, and I spend multiple hours every day with them in my ears. I’ve tried every generation of AirPods, save for AirPods Pro (2nd gen), and have more audio products scattered throughout my home than I’d like to admit.1 My daily drivers are AirPods (2nd gen). Suffice it to say, I have opinions about AirPods.

With rumors ramping up about next the generation of AirPods non-Pro, I wanted to take a moment to lay out what I’d like to see come in their next version.

In order of importance:

  1. Improved fit
  2. Tap-to-control
  3. Noise cancellation magic
  4. Improved audio quality
  5. Fitness features
  6. The rest

Improved fit

You saw above that I’m still rocking the AirPods (2nd gen) that debuted in 2019, but whose design is unchanged from the original AirPods introduced in 2016 along with the iPhone 7. Why? Because they’re the design that fit in my ears. As far as a first-generation product goes, Apple truly knocked it out of the park with AirPods. They said they studied thousands of ears to come up with the best shape to fit the most ears, and I believe them.

That said, they also made the same claim about the third-generation AirPods, the ones that gained an elongated head” to nearly match the style of AirPods Pro, and those didn’t fit my ear holes at all. I was so disappointed that they fell out with any sort of activity or chewing motion. The same goes for AirPods Pro. I’ve tried every ear tip size, third-party foam tips, and every imaginable orientation to try to get them to fit. They just don’t and the combination of discomfort and worry that they’d fall out at any moment prevented me from ever getting lost in the music or conversation getting piped through them. In-ear tips are not the answer for me, and there are plenty of us out there that I think there needs to be a non-canal-obstructing option.

And so I’ve stuck with the second-generation version which Apple has mercifully kept available for sale, I assume, because they know that the two fits cover a wider breadth of customers than if they only sold the third-generations. But I can’t imagine Apple wants to keep that original design around forever, and so I’m optimistic that the next design will fit me as well as the 1st/2nd gens do.

Tap-to-control

Here’s another thing I want to see brought forward from the second-generation AirPods to the fourth: the imprecise tapping mechanism to control media playback. For the first two generations of AirPods, a simple double-tap with your finger on the outside of the head of the earbud would play/pause the media, and a triple-tap would skip tracks. And they were configurable to summon Siri.

For the third-generation design, the stem of the earbud shrunk in size but grew in capability. Play/pause/skip was moved to a pinching gesture on the stem, as measured by a new force sensor. AirPods Pro brought volume control to the stem as well, allowing you to drag a finger up and down it to adjust volume. In my experience, the volume control is awesome and something obviously missing from prior models. But the pinching gesture is a swing and a miss.

John Siracusa did a, predictably, good job at articulating why the pinching mechanism is a regression back when it was introduced, and you should listen to his rant about it on the Accidental Tech Podcast. The tl;dl version is that you need to be more precise to grab and pinch, you run the risk of pulling the AirPod out of your ears when you grip the stem (as opposed to pushing them in with the tapping gesture), and it is a difficult gesture to accomplish with gloved or otherwise covered (dirty, soapy, etc.) hand. Oh, and it’s likewise difficult to do when the AirPods are covered by a hat like mine often are here in the northeast.

I’m sure that plenty of people have gotten used to the new gestures, so I don’t necessarily think that the pinch gesture should be removed, but bringing back tap-to-control” and introducing volume control to the non-Pro model would be big wins in my book.

Noise cancellation magic

Now we’re getting to the nice-to-haves. Apple is doing such interesting work in the noise cancellation field with AirPods Pro, that I’m, frankly, a bit jealous. I’d like to be able to tune back outside noises with cancellation, boost conversations with conversation mode, or let the AirPods do all the decision-making and just keep them on Adaptive Audio. I recognize that these features would suffer from the lack of an in-ear tip to provide passive noise cancellation along with the active version. But I also think Apple can make some headway here. And you could always turn it off if you don’t like the effect.

Improved audio quality

I think this is pretty much a gimme that Apple would tout their audio processing prowess, along with an improved physical speaker system for any new set of AirPods. But it’s fourth on my list because I’m not dissatisfied with how even my second-generation models sound. I don’t have particularly discerning hearing, so any slight change that could made in earbuds so small would likely get lost on me.2 But better is better, so let’s always keep moving sound quality forward.

Fitness features

Alright, now I’m just throwing pasta at the wall. There have been whispers of fitness tracking features coming to AirPods, and that sounds cool, I guess? If having a sensor inside my ears helps my Apple Watch to better track my heart rate or other health metrics, sure, let’s go for it! But it probably wouldn’t be a selling point for me, just an extra cool thing.

The rest

Finally, let’s not regress from any other improvements AirPods have enjoyed along their journey. USB-C should be the physical port on the charging case. The buds should have some water resistance to guard against sweat or rain when out on a run. Current battery life is plenty, but could always be improved (provided the case doesn’t have to get bigger — in fact, the smaller the case the better). Their Bluetooth standard should meet the latest specs, or maybe even adapt to use ultra wideband for a more stable and dedicated connection with larger data bandwidth. Improved microphones for phone calls and voice assistants. In short, the usual suspects when bumping up a generation.

AirPods are the gold standard in the wireless headphone industry, and they could stand on their own as a titan in the tech industry if broke out from the rest of Apple’s business. They’re a wearable product, which comes with distinct challenges regarding fit and durability. And they’re deeply personal. Most people I talk to would feel as out of place without their AirPods as they would without their keys or wallet. So a lot rides on each new generation, but I’m hopeful that the next ones will be the best yet.


  1. Although, I really should do a full write-up of my audio journey one of these days.↩︎

  2. I’m honestly not sure why I even have the higher bitrate setting in Apple Music turned on. I should experiment if I can even tell the difference there, or if I can save storage and bandwidth by dropping back to the default setting for sound quality.↩︎


March 21, 2024

All eBooks Are Not Created Equal

I got a nasty surprise when I purchased an ebook” version of a climbing manual this week.

I thought it was going to be great. I could load it up, along with other guidebooks and reference books, onto my Kobo, and have them all at my disposal on a small, lightweight, and waterproof device that’s easy-to-read in the sun. I’d toss that in my climbing pack any day! But nope, it turns out I purchased a license to read the book through an app, and not even a good one at that. Sure, I can read it on my iPad and iPhone, but it’s not the DRM-free version that I’d been expecting. I suppose I’ll do some digging for a version I can load onto my Kobo, but it left a sour taste in my mouth — like I’d been duped.

This isn’t the outcome I was expecting from this experience, but more and more I’m wondering if I should have just stuck with the Kindle ecosystem. It simply has access to more books, which is the whole point. Ugh.


March 21, 2024

Now, March 2024

Taking a page out of Maique’s book and trying a more bite-sized /now update.


🏋️‍♀️ A weight has been lifted off my shoulders after discussing my Leap Year plans with my wife. I wanted to have more of it figured out before I came to her and made the pitch”, but I needn’t have waited. She gave me her full support, because of course she did. 🥲 There’s still much to research and line up before it’s a go. But her having my back was the proverbial starting line and I’m so excited/terrified. 😁

⌛🧗‍♂️ Counting down to my Red Rocks climbing trip. It’ll be my first time climbing in Las Vegas — actually my first time in Vegas at all, unless you count a flight layover (I don’t). My buddy and I are looking to rack up some vertical mileage on easy-to-moderate multipitch climbs, and Red Rocks has some of the best of them. Can’t wait!

⛑ It’s apparently professional development season for Jarrod. My first aid and CPR certifications expire soon, so I’ve signed up for a Wilderness First Aid course next months with some new friends I made climbing last week. And in early April, I’m attending the New York State Outdoor Guide’s Association conference. I’ve never been to one, but the sessions look interesting, and I hoping to meet more folks in the industry and learn as much as I can from them. Finally, I pulled the trigger and signed up for an American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) Single Pitch Instructor (SPI) course in early May. AMGA is the professional instructor certification body in the USA for mountain guides. Since my long-term goal is to become an internationally-certified guide in all the mountain disciplines, the SPI course is the first step along that journey. (I actually took this same course back in 2016, but never got around to signing up for the exam. I won’t make the same mistake this time round.)

❄ The weather here in the Northeast has been throwing me for a loop. We got a warm spell for a few weeks that demolished our snow and got me psyched for rock climbing season. But now winter is making a return with new snowfall. I got out skiing a few more times, and I might be able to get in a little more ice climbing if I wasn’t headed to Nevada next week. Who knows what season it’ll be here when I get back! 🤷‍♂️

📺 I tend to only have a couple of TV shows going at any given time. My wife and I have been getting into Foundation as our serious show, and we’re doing a rewatch of New Girl for our lighthearted one. Both are excellent. We’re almost through the first season of Foundation and I’m so glad we’ll be able jump right into the second.

🍿 Have you seen the Elemental movie? What a strange film. Inventive, as always from Pixar, but it sort of missed the mark for me. Not a huge fan of the relationship between Ember and her father. But her love story with Wade in the second half almost pulled it back into the good zone. Still thinking about it, which is something, I suppose. The Taylor Swift: Eras Tour movie has been staring at me from the Up Next’ queue. I’ll probably break down and watch that again soon.

🧘‍♂️ My 30-day yoga journey has turned into more of a 30-to-60-day yoga journey. I haven’t been very consistent about doing it every morning before work, but I’m still seeing some benefits and enjoy it when I drag my ass out of bed to the mat.

📌 I continue to save more blog posts and internet articles than I could ever read.

🫶 The best part of this week, except for item number one at the top, has been the response to kicking off the One a Month Club. Obviously, I believe its a good model, but having other people get excited about it too has been heartwarming. I’ve had people emailing me every day about the project, and it’s already sparked some great conversations. The club itself has nearly 30 members and continues to evolve. You’ll notice short descriptions for each site start to pop up there (if you’re a member and can send me your preferred one-sentence description, please do!). I hope you’ll browse through the awesome sites there and find at least one to support. On a more personal note, I’m blown away to now have six(!) supporters of, as Maique puts it, my dingus.club “shenanigans”. I’m touched.

🤖 Finally, I’m exploring how I can make my /now page a bit more dynamic so that there’s new stuff here even when I don’t get around to writing a full update.

Now


March 18, 2024

Study Abroad, Hobbies, and Blogging Origins with Valerie V

Being a PenPal with someone in Kyrgyzstan” is not something that I would have had on my Bingo card a couple of years ago. Which is my way of saying that I’ve got a new exchange with Valerie up on our PenPal conversation page.

This time we chatted about studying abroad, Valerie’s experience as a teacher in Kyrgyzstan, and some cultural differences between the States and there. Val made an astute observation about how language impacts how a whole group of people can experience the world around them, while I prattled on some more about climbing and recreation in the mountains. I hope Val get the opportunity to look into some adult clubs!

We also talked a bit about what brought each of us to Micro.blog, which is where we met.

Blogging is just the best.

PenPals


March 17, 2024

7 Things This Week [#136]

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


1️⃣ Apple is moving steadily toward their sustainability goals, this time updating packaging on some charging accessories to no longer use plastic bits and to implore customers to recycle the boxes. (iOS’s Translate this page’ feature came in handy!) [🔗 macotakara.jp] (Via Michael Steeber)

2️⃣ James isn’t just writing about what you can do with a blog, he’s pushing the envelope with his own. Such as allowing you to navigate his site using a penguin. Yes, you read that right. [🔗 jamesg.blog]

3️⃣ Downhill ice skating is not a thing I knew existed. [🔗 @smallaxefarmvermont // instagram.com] (Via Jason Kottke)

4️⃣ Some design trends to look for in 2024. Pretty slick site, too. (I’ll peg highlighting text, karaoke-style as a trend too.) [🔗 designtrends.click] (Via Matt Birchler)

5️⃣ I don’t think I need this app, but I commend Iconfactory for their creative solution to the what’s going on with my iOS device” problem. They made device memory/network stats into a movie that can be watched picture-in-picture while you do things in other apps. [🔗 Craig Hockenberry // blog.iconfactory.com]

6️⃣ I didn’t know I needed this human-sized dog bed. Now I know. [🔗 Nena Farrell // wired.com] (Via Paul Kafasis)

7️⃣ A friend reminded me of this list of things that Skippy is no longer allowed to do in the US Army. A staple of comedy in my formative years. [🔗 skippyslist.com]


52 Albums Project

Screen Violence by CHVRCHES (2021) — #11/52

I discovered CHVRCHES through Merlin Mann and John Siracusa. I don’t know why I was surprised that this was the kind of music they liked too (ageism, I guess), but I’m so glad I took them up on the recommendation. They’re so up my alley with their clear lyrics, powerful beats, challenging topics, and high energy.

I’ve liked all of their albums, but Screen Violence is something special. It’s a banger from start to finish.

Follow along on the 52 Albums Project page where I’m making some playlists for you.


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 52 Albums