The eli4d Gazette – Issue 031

Tech Pick

Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference is currently running in San Jose. Two interesting points from Monday’s keynote:

For those looking for a summary of the keynote:

Media Pick

I really enjoy the Imaginary Worlds podcast but the latest episode (Do the Voice) was really different. It was an episode that came from The Truth Podcast. The Truth podcast is about:

THE TRUTH makes movies for your ears: short stories that are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, and always intriguing. Each story is different, and usually 10 to 20 minutes long. We take you to unexpected places using only sound. For best results, use headphones!

I’ve started listening to it, and it’s quite a nice short audio trip that is weirdly worthed.


Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know: @eli4d on Twitter


The eli4d Gazette – Issue 026

Issue 026: 2017-03-29

Tech Pick

Last week, Stack Overflow published their 2017 Developer Survey. It is a comprehensive survey examining a whole host of developer related topics ranging from technologies used to development practices. It’s one of those surveys that requires multiple read-throughs. My favorite section of the survey – “Most Loved, Dreaded, and Wanted Languages” (checkout JavaScript’s standing across all three categories…lol). Enjoy!

Media Pick

A recent Elixir Fountain podcast episode had an excellent interview with Chad Fowler. Chad’s reflections (and affection) for programming languages (especially Erlang) was quite neat. I notated specific sections of this interview through my twitter feed and can find these here.


Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know: @eli4d on Twitter.


The eli4d Gazette – Issue 022


Issue 022: 2017-02-01

Note: I’ve marked affiliate links with a carrot (^) symbol.

Playing games to deal with depression? I’m not sure I’m convinced but the Note to Self podcast had an interesting interview with Jane McGonigal (no – not the one from Harry Potter) about the use of video games for self-help.

Recent Articles and/or Techie Tweets


Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know: @eli4d on Twitter


The eli4d Gazette – Issue 021

Issue 021: 2017-01-18

New Year Related Pick

I heard a neat podcast episode from the Tiny Challenges site that was about 2017 intentions. The challenge itself is “three words of intentions for 2017”. I think it’s a nice challenge that isn’t as burdensome as the new year’s resolution approach.

If you’re looking for a more traditional goal based approach you might find the following article to be useful: https://eli4d.com/2016/01/29/alternatives-to-new-year-resolutions/.

Media Pick

I’ve been thinking/struggling for quite a while about the nature and place of my canonical place. Manton Reece has been thinking of the same thing. Manton has come up with micro.blog which will be a “timeline and publishing platform for the open web”. It’s an interesting idea and approach. Some information regarding this effort:

  • Kickstarter campaign: I’ve backed this project because I’m really interested in the book that he is writing about the open web and his approach to the canonical issue (besides the service).

  • Manton discussing the project on the Release Notes podcast: A very good discussion clarifying the intent and workings of this project.

  • Micro.blog’s about page

  • RSS will power the timeline of microblogs and Wikipedia has a good definition

More Recent Articles


Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know: @eli4d on Twitter


Holiday Recommendations/Reviews – 2016

Overview

This post is inspired by this week’s Release Notes podcast that focused on holiday recommendations. I like this retrospective on items that have been battle tested through regular use. My focus will be on podcasts, iOS apps, Mac apps and some physical items. This will be a quick, broad sweep across many things that I’ve wanted to review/mention for a while but never had time.

Some Quick Notes

Holiday note: I wish you and yours a safe an happy holiday season. I’ll be back with new articles towards the end of January 2017.

Wikipedia note: Think back to the past year. Did you use Wikipedia? What if Wikipedia had ads on every page…would that have made it better? If you’ve used Wikipedia in any way, then please consider donating to this great site.

Disclaimer note: Please remember that the usual disclaimer applies – these are just my opinions.

Podcast Recommendations

I’ve decided to limit these recommendations to only 3 podcasts (my list of podcasts is way too long). These are my absolute favorites for this year and you might find them interesting.

iOS App Recommendations

These are my home screen worthy apps. You might also find them to be useful.

Overcast – the best podcast player

I’ll admit that saying “the best” is somewhat of a ridiculous thing (in the same way that many articles start with ‘finally‘), but I really really like the Overcast podcast player. Its smart speed is amazing at saving time and listening to more podcasts.

Overcast - the best podcast player

Audible – audio books, audio clips and button free awesomeness

I’ve started a new experiment in shifting half of my listening to audio books and half to podcasts (from %100 podcasts). My goal is to read more (whether through actual reading or audio books). I’ve subscribed to Amazon’s Audible service and I’ve found the Audible app to be ridiculously great. The ability to save and share audio clips is very well done and its best feature is the ‘Button-Free’ view through which an audio book can be controlled through tactile interface only.

Audible - audio books, audio clips and button free awesomeness

Due – quick reminders that are not worth putting in your todo app

I first heard about Due through a John Gruber post. John described Due as “a convenient, low-friction way to set short-term reminders and timers. Sort of like *Pester but for iPhone. Focused and thoughtful design”*. And Due does live up to John’s description (as does Due 2.0).

Due’s website describes its purpose best when it says that it is a “place where all mundane but important reminders can go.” Examples:

  • Before school put sun tan lotion on child (and maybe yourself too)
  • Take vitamins before leaving house
  • Go to Costco after work

Note: A second runner-up is Alarmed.

Due - quick reminders that are not worth putting in your todo app

Soulver – best un-spreadsheet spreadsheet program

I’ve been using Soulver on my iPhone for a long time. Whether it’s for a quick calculation or a weekly money-envelope tracking of my coffee habit – soulver is there to help me out. I also purchased the Mac version of the app which allows me to use it to keep Soulver sheets via iCloud.

I’ve also used it in complex budget tracking at work. While Excel grinds numbers into baby food, Soulver lets me see the bigger picture.

Soulver - best un-spreadsheet spreadsheet program

GoodReader – the swiss army knife of PDF and pdf-like things

I’ve mentioned GoodReader before. Its primary strength is PDF annotation but it also can play mp3 audio with the niceties of repeat loops (like when you child likes that 1 song that they want repeated over and over and over again), and specific sequences. It certainly gives PDFpen a run for its money and in my experience it has also been more stable (besides better pricing).

GoodReader - the swiss army knife of PDF and pdf-like things

Pedometer++ – great step-tracking for that 10,000 steps per day goal

There’s not much to say about Pedometer++. It does one thing and it does it very well – tracking steps. You can set a certain step goal which triggers green confetti (and double the goal step count triggers blue confetti). I know this sounds like the most ridiculous thing but it’s a reward that works well from a habit loop perspective.

Pedometer++ - great step-tracking for that 10,000 steps per day goal

Instapaper – the read anything anywhere app

I’ve used Instapaper for many years to read interesting articles that I’ve come across. I can save most web pages to be read later via Instapaper. One cool feature is that you are given a unique email address where you can send articles. This email can be used to subscribe to interesting newsletters. This way – newsletters end up right on Instapaper and can be read anywhere.

Marco Arment was its original creator and it has gone through several owners. The current owner is Pinerest who has made all its features freely available. I don’t know if this is a short-term thing. Hopefully not but time will tell. It is certainly worth trying for the price (FREE).

Instapaper - the read anything anywhere app

Glympse – like a time limited version of Find-my-Friends

Have you ever wanted to let someone know where you are or better yet – see where you are? Glympse is your solution. Whether it’s letting your spouse know where you are, or whether it is letting a friend know your location – Glympse is great in that you can set:

  • temporary visibility for your location (you can set a default of 1 hour, for example, so any ‘Glympses’ that you send will automatically expire)
  • set favorites for frequent contacts

While Apple’s Find My Friends feature is very useful, it misses one important point: your friends don’t need to know where you are all of the time. Sure you could turn it off after an activity but who does that.

Glympse - like a time limited version of Find-my-Friends

True Weight – a beautiful and simple average weight tracker

From an app perspective, I consider True Weight to be ‘perfect’ in the way it addresses the topic of weight tracking. The only issue is that it hasn’t been updated since 2013 and iOS 10 occasionally puts up a dialog of “this app may slowdown your iPhone”. Nevertheless it is a great app which I intend to use until it is obsoleted by the iPhone’s operating system.

I’ve recently searched for alternatives but they all have fallen short due to either poor UI or friction filled usage issues.

Daily Workouts – quick exercise routines that make sense

I have owned some adjustable dumbbells for a long time. I wanted a simple routine and it took me a while to find Daily Workouts (the amount of crappy exercise apps is mind boggling). The app provides you with a variety of workout that contain 10 exercises per workout. You can also choose a random workout or a custom one where you set the 10 exercises that you want.

I found it worthwhile to get the full blown version for $9.99. It plays well on the iPhone and even better on the iPad.

Daily Workouts - quick exercise routines that make sense

Mac App Recommendations

Beyond the standard macOS apps (Mail, etc..), these are apps that are dock worth.

Alinof TimerPro – countdown timer extraordinaire

Whether I’m using the Pomodoro technique, some other timeboxing technique, the 2-minute GTD inbox rule or something else requiring a countdown timer – Alinof TimerPro is perfect in providing multiple countdown timers that can stay in the background or be visible on the screen. There are lots (and lots) of crappy timers out there but I’ve found Alinof to be the best (so far).

Alinof TimerPro - countdown timer extraordinaire

Marked 2 – If you’re using Markdown then you need this Mac app

I wont go into the terrific simplicity John Gruber‘s Markdown. If you’re a Markdown practitioner then you need Marked 2. It works with any editor and it provides a realtime preview of Markdown’s output. It also has a variety of options and themes as well as export options.

Marked 2 - If you're using Markdown then you need this Mac app

Clarify 2 – stories through screenshots

Clarify allows for the creation of excellent documentation through pictures and words. If you need to convey information in a clear and visual way then you’ll find that Clarify is worth every penny. It has many export options but I’ve found its Markdown export capability to be veyr powerful.

Clarify 2 - stories through screenshots

Hardware-ish Products

In reflecting over the past year and looking over my Amazon purchases I found a few products that have withstood daily use and abuse.

Note: I have Amazon affiliate links for these products.

Koss KSC32B Fitclips Headphones

I’m not sure why Koss decided to market these headphones to women but they work well for men too. In fact, these headphones work well for anyone with ears ๐Ÿ™‚ .

Koss KSC32B Fitclips Headphones

No Stress Chess

This chess set is great for any child that is 5 years or older. It really takes out the stress of teaching chess. If you child can pick up a playing card, then they can play No Stress Chess.

No Stress Chess

Portable Stand Laptop Holder

I’ll admit that the “Superbpag Multi-angle Non-slip Portable Stand Holder Laptop Stand For iPad 2 3 4 Air Mini Retina Tablet and Most Laptop” looks ridiculously chintzy on Amazon’s site. And yet they work ridiculously well in terms of size, weight, and resilience. They also bring some semblance of ergonomics to laptop use in a coffee shop (assuming you have a keyboard of course).

Portable Stand Laptop Holder

iBenzer Hard Case Cover and Keyboard Cover for Macbook

The iBenzer Soft-Touch Series Plastic Hard Case is a light and protective cover for your Macbook. While the cover is great, my biggest surprise was the keyboard cover. The keyboard cover has been very resilient and it does not curl like Kuzy covers (which I’ve previously owned). iBenzer does a great job in both the case and the keyboard cover.

Note: Make sure to exactly match you Macbook’s model to the case since there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to these sort of cases and keyboard covers.

iBenzer Hard Case Cover and Keyboard Cover for Macbook

Conclusion

I hope this app/hardware retrospective is helpful. I wish you a healthy and safe holiday season and a great new year.

Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know via @eli4d on Twitter.


The eli4d Gazette – Issue 016


Issue 016: 2016-10-12

Tech Pick

I came across two interesting articles about JavaScript. The first article covers the results of a very comprehensive survey that was sent to 9,000 developers (and how can you not like an article that starts with “JavaScript is great!” and “JavaScript is a mess”). The second article is a humorous (with a large does of truth) post about learning JavaScript in 2016.

Media Pick

I came across a new podcast – Greater than Code. It is hosted by some ex-panelists from the Ruby Rogues podcast. If you’re curious about this podcast listen to episode 2 with Avdi Grimm.

The eli4d Gazette – Issue 015


Issue 015: 2016-09-28

Tech Pick

How is your code biased? How is your data biased? Is your sample set skewed? Do you even want to know that your sample data set is skewed? If your software affects more than you – then have you thought about all of your potential users?

The Ruby Rogues podcast has a great episode about equality, social justice and how these areas intersect with algorithms and big data. The examples given on the show (like Kodak’s photo color biasing for over fifty years) are quite amazing and sobering.

Media Pick

I promise that the Ruby Rogues podcast is not the only one I listen to. However, during the picks section of episode 277 (about Agile) Saron Yitbarek mentioned her Ruby Book Club podcast. This podcast is great as the hosts walk through their readings and challenges of a particular technical book. A good place to start is the Sandi Metz and Katrina Owen episode which begins the reading of the ’99 Bottle of OOP’.

The Sandi Metz episode was chock full of great information which I need to bookmark via my twitter feed.