It’s finally chilly hygge-weather in the Bay Area, so I’ve been reading a lot after returning from a long trip to Japan. I hope wherever you are, you’re warm and feel loved.
The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern
I read this in a delightful haze during the holiday weekend. I love stories like these, that are also about stories, and books, and love. I remember liking the Night Circus, but I absolutely adore The Starless Sea. This is a book for those of us who love exploring, and digging into a fantastical tale.
The Infinite Wait – Julia Wertz
My friend Jenny recommended this one a while ago, and I finally got around to reading it. I couldn’t put it down. It’s hilarious, sad, and very close to home. I’d never heard of Wertz until now, but I plan to immediately buy all her comics.
The Future of Another Timeline — Annalee Newitz
Wow. This book was a triumph, and seriously seals Newitz as a scifi master. I only wish I could explore this world for longer. A perfect blend of history, speculation, and feminism—this book imagines a world in which collective action is possible deep into the past. Dang.
How to Do Nothing — Jenny Odell
Now that I’ve finally finished her book, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. This isn’t the self-help palp that so many books about your phone are, but instead a wildly revelatory piece on bioregionalism, art, mystery, and birds. So many cool birds. This is a book I had to sip, because every few pages were full of so many ideas I wanted to savor them. I learned quite a bit from Jenny in these pages, and I am lucky to count her as a friend. Don’t worry if it takes you a while to read this, just buy a copy and meander through California through it.
Shadow and Bone — Leigh Bardugo
This was a neat YA that ended far before I thought it would—my edition had almost 100 pages of previews after the book. I enjoyed the magic system, despite the unfortunate teen romance that tends to plague YA. I’ll likely read more of this series, in hopes that it continues to build a cool world.
Sadly, I wasn’t feeling great so I missed a bit of this, but I think I got all the important bits. I really want to see this again in the near future. The overall tone of the film was fantastic, and the comedic hits were delightful.
The preview of this movie had me hoping it was a potential adaptation of NK Jeminson’s Broken Earth trilogy, but alas, it wasn’t. Fortunately, it was still a fun movie about family and mutant powers. I wish there was a little more substance to the whole film, but on the upside, the mood was pretty interesting. Also it’s weird seeing a belter as a sheriff (please see the Expanse for more details).
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
I’ve had this on my to-watch list for years, and finally decided to dive in. It was a beautiful and strange mediation on life, death, and family.
Terminator: Dark Fate
A nice return to form. This felt like a nice natural extension to Terminator 2, and while it wasn’t a great film by any means, it was a fun romp with lots of goofy jokes, explosions, and Mackenzie Davis.
Edge of Tomorrow
This was a rewatch after a listening to a recent episode of the Incomparables. I have a special place in my heart for movies where Tom Cruise is supposed to be a tough guy, and if you add in mechanized suits? Hell yes. It’s not the best film, but it’s very fun.
Another year has rushed past, and with it, another iPhone update and some changes to my phone since last year’s setup. My use of a single screen of apps continues, with a few major and minor changes alongside.
I’ve posted these for the past few years, so if you want to see what apps I was using in 2017, here you go.
3 app dock—I moved my Twitter app out of my dock in order to spend less time on Twitter. I figured if I wanted to to launch it I could easily search for it, but perhaps by having it out of reach I wouldn’t launch the app out of habit or boredom. This worked pretty well.
Fantastical—Last year I said “This is definitely the app I am most interested in replacing.” I replaced it with iOS Calendar not too long after writing this post because of the cleaner look, date view icon, and a better visualization of my next meeting on my phone and watch. I also really hate how Fantastical uses space on the iPad. I still hope that someday Apple opens up the ability to change icons based on events or time, but until they do, I’ll have a hard time moving away from the default calendar.
Bear—I moved completely off of Bear in favor of iAWriter, largely due to Working Copy, which is an excellent Git client for iOS devices, and means I can use iAWriter’s file function to open up posts like this one that live in my personal blog’s Drafts folder.
Google Maps—I moved back to Apple Maps. In general Apple Maps got a lot better, and works better on my watch. Also, in Japan, Apple Maps often shows results from TabeLog, which tends to have much better local recommendations.
Tweetbot—I replaced this with the weird beta Twitter app twttr. It’s hidden in a folder now to encourage me to not use it as often, and that is working pretty well.
Fiery Feeds—Reeder 4 came out and it’s amazing. I moved to Reeder 4 on all of my devices, and I love it. The read later feature has also replaced Safari’s read later for me in all instances. I don’t use Bionic reading, but it’s a neat feature regardless. I continue to use Feedbin to back my RSS.
Overcast — Overcast is great. This year it just got better, from CarPlay, to the watch, to my phone. I am really excited for Marco to update for more Airplay 2 features as he mentioned in a recent episode of ATP. There are other podcast apps out there, but for smart-speed, playlists, and everything else, there is only Overcast.
Spark—I kept using Spark this year, especially as they updated for a great black-screened-OLED-friendly dark mode, and rethought their entire interface in 2.5. This is a great email app on all my devices, and has fantastic keyboard support for iPadOS.
Apple Music—I’ve barely opened Spotify all year. Apple Music keeps getting better, and it seems like more of my friends have moved over to it as well.
Things—This app is how I keep track of all my work and personal tasks. It’s incredible. Keyboard shortcuts are available on iOS and Mac, and in general this app is a great example of how a cross-platform app should function.
Apple Photos—This app got a lot better in iOS 13, and I really enjoy it. Not much else to say.
Slack—I work at Slack still, and it’s still a great app.
Single folder—65 extra apps live in this folder. They range from rarely-used travel apps for work, to translation apps, to video and banking apps. I don’t love all of the apps in this folder, but I regularly go through them to make sure they’re still needed.
A few of the apps that live inside my large catch-all folder and are opened via search.
Working Copy—This app is amazing. In addition to functioning as a great Git tool, it also has syntax and code-highlighting for tons of languages. I don’t work in Working Copy all the time, but when I’m iPad-only, I use it quite a bit for work and my personal projects.
Google Fi—I moved to Google Fi last year from AT&T largely due to the free and easy international roaming. It’s great.
Tsurukame—This is my daily second job. I spend around two hours a day in this app and reading in order to become fully literate in Japanese. As I write this, I’m at level 39, and have over 1300 Kanji above Guru level. Learning Japanese is super hard, but worth it.
Plex—Lots of video sources live here. It’s a great app, and I wish other video streaming services would learn from Plex’s great example.
1Password—All my passwords live here, and are super long and complex. Similar to Things, I don’t think I could work the same way without 1Password.
Last year I suggested my list of apps might not shift much, but five of my major home screen apps changed due to updates and simplicity. I’m happy this year with the apps that I use and due to my requirements of quality Apple Watch, Mac, and iPadOS cross-platform functionality the bar is really high for other apps to knock these off of my phone. I’m very excited about iOS 14, especially with news that it might be more stable than the particularly rough iOS 13 release. Perhaps Apple will give more features to devs that unlock unimagined new functionality. We’ll find out in 6 months.
Here’s all the albums I really loved this year easily accessible as an Apple Playlist.
1) Cheap Queen — King Princess
Bless lesbian musicians. King Princess first caught my attention with the song Pussy is God, which damn. This album is a bop.
2) Emily Alone — Florist
A deeply sparse, sad album that I enjoy quite a bit. Florist has always made beautiful songs, but this is a so quiet and so delightful.
3) Interloper — Momma
Just the right amount of harmonies and hooks to draw you into a strange and fun indie rock band.
4) Family Tree — Oh Land
A gorgeous album from a Danish former dancer. I just love her voice—from the start the album has a haunting beauty.
5) Scholars — Buke & Gase
I’ve had every album Buke & Gase put out on repeat for some time after their release, and dearly love their jangly, angular rock. This album doesn’t disappoint.
6) Beast on Beast — Gabby’s World
This is the first band I’ve listened to that has gone through three name changes, from Eskimeaux, to Ó, then finally Gabby’s World. I’ve loved them the whole time, and find this to be especially good sad subway music for when you’re a little bummed and riding home at night.
7) Placeholder — Hand Habits
A complex jam album with fantastic guitars and vocals weaving in and out of downtempo songs.
8) Memory Streams — Portico Quartet
I first heard this band at a vinyl bar in Oakland, and their latest album rules.
9) Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery — The Comet Is Coming
Fantastic end of the world music. This is really strange, funky jazz, and I dig it. Many mornings start off with this album and some coffee.
10) Nowhere Now Here — MONO
I’ve been stoked on MONO since high school, and was lucky enough to see them perform many times at Emo’s (RIP) in Austin. They just keep on making fantastic music that vacillates softer beautiful sounds and driving melodies. Whether you’re walking around the city or taking a train to another city, this album creates a gorgeous soundtrack for your life.
11) Patience — Manequin Pussy
A chill mix of punk and indie rock jams. I think I first saw this band at a show/benefit for Bernie Sanders that I didn’t know was a benefit. It was a super washed crowd, but Manequin Pussy owned bones. This record rules.
12) Crush on Me — Sir Babygirl
I’m really enjoying the new influx of queer and lesbian pop music these days. This album is infectiously catchy and often hilarious. Put it on and enjoy the short bouts of sun this winter.
13) Miss Universe — Nilüfer Yanya
I’m not sure how to describe this album, but it’s a jam. A bit of r&b, a bit of indie rock, and a lot of really solid tunes. I’ve put this album on a repeat a few times this year.
14) Hifalutin — Lowly
Super dance-y-yet-downtempo album. I can throw this on for a variety of moods, and it seems to always suit them. There’s something about Denmark that must inspire people to make brilliant music—this album was recorded in a small warehouse near Aarhus.
15) Weird — Juliana Hatfield
Oh hey, an album that feels like I do sometimes: “I’m staying in/My hair’s not right/And if I go out/Somebody might Take me for a functioning/Human being”. I’m sure I heard Hatfield before this album, but this is the one where she came together for me as an artist.
16) Fibs — Anna Meredith
This album is a solid jam. Anna Meredith’s compositions feel important, weird, and powerful. I often listen to this album in the morning to wake up and feel better about the day.
17) Four of Arrows — Great Grandpa
For a sophmore effort this is a really fun, mature album. I like that they’ve moved from more straightforward poppy indie music to a little more melodic rock.
18) Two Hands — Big Thief
Honestly, the fact that Big Thief put out two incredible albums this year is wild to me. I love both of their 2019 records, but Two Hands especially keeps going back on the stereo. It’s gorgeous. Jia Tolentino wrote about them recently, and I recommend reading her piece.
19) Any Human Friend — Marika Hackman
“I’ve got BDE/I think it’s a venereal disease”. Ugh. This album is an instant lesbian classic. I’ve loved every album Hackman has put out, with That Iron Taste immediately pulling me in, and constantly being on rotation. I got to see her perform in Portland a few years back, and the show was outstanding. Between her soft vocal delivery, which whispers with poetry and sensuality, and the brutally raw lyrical content… just wow.
20) Lost Wisdom Pt. — Mount Eerie
After the utter devastation of his past two albums, this truly sad album about an impending divorce with beautiful guest vocals from Julie Doiron almost comes as a relief. This is a tragedy I can almost understand, feelings I have felt. Microphones and Mount Eerie have held me through many hard times, and this album is an excellent entry into their discography.
As usual, when I go on a DevRel tour, I like to write about what I’ve packed. This trip was a 3 week journey from Tokyo, through Kyoto, to Osaka, and back. As I write this, halfway through the trip, I feel very good about the amount of stuff I brought.
Last time I went to Japan, I brought the DSPTCH Waist Bag as my day bag, and my shoulders immediately regretted it. I think my days or a one-shoulder bag with a computer are pretty much over. This time I returned to my tried and true setup. I’ve reviewed or written about both of these bags previously.
These are great for clothes and toiletries, and additionally ensure that even in a downpour I can keep a few things dry.
This time around, I loaded my toothbrush and some other non-leaky toiletries into this bag because I noticed the metal tip of my electric toothbrush kept almost poking through my dry bag.
My daily jacket. I’ve got two of these and they’re awesome. Not quite waterproof, but warm enough, and water-resistant enough for a drizzle and temperatures between 7-20C (mid-40s to mid-60s F).
If it rains, I’m covered.
A great way to stay dry and warm or cool. These wash easily and are comfy for all-day-travel.
I wear these to work daily, and they’re pretty ideal. Comfy, flexible, and a bit water-resistant. The pockets are also huge which means my phone fits easily in a front pocket.
These shoes go on and off pretty easily, and look nice enough for business meetings while still feeling good for longer walks. Half of this trip was a vacation, where I wandered around all day, including hiking. I almost went with my new KOIO shoes, but at the last minute, opted for slip-one with a lot of grip.
Wool is the way to go. I’ve tried other solutions and they were nice enough, but ultimately, wool holds up the best and wicks super well.
At some point, maybe I can travel with only USB-C cables, but that world doesn’t exist yet. Fortunately my external battery has a USB-C port and a USB-A port, so I use those two to charge my phone and watch at night. On the plane my USB-C to USB-C cable means I can top-up my iPad if I play too many games or get low mid-season of a tv show. It completely boggles the mind why the Kindle isn’t a USB-C device yet. Seriously. It’s 2019.
The usual assortment of unguents, potions, and a toothbrush, along with my trusty new pen and notebook. I love this Kaweco pen, which is both completely blacked-out, and compact. I also brought some small gifts for 東京と大阪の同僚。
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