Read-Only Twitter

On the latest episode of The Talk Show with John Gruber, guest Marco Arment mentions how since, he hasn’t paid for Tweetbot as of late, he’s using it as a read-only Twitter client. He says it’s actually more enjoyable this way.

This got me thinking about how I could go about this. I use Feedbin for my RSS feeds, which support following a single Twitter account or a Twitter list. Retweets can be disabled, so that I’m only getting original content. If there are any links to articles, the text is grabbed from the article for me and ready to read. I can also star posts within Feedbin and share out if I choose.

So, what about posting? I post here. I do the thing I’m doing now. If you’re not familiar, this blog cross-posts to Twitter, so anything you see here you’ll see there. All of this goes into my concept of my digital decluttering I’m looking at. It’s worth a try at least.

Creating a Few Less Distractions

More and more, I’m becoming more about having my tech make as little sound as possible. The exclusion to this would be my smart speakers, since that’s literally their job. But, that’s good noise. What I don’t want are the various sounds that come from the different phones, tablets, and computers in my home.

It’s because of this I’m a considerable fan of silent mode on my devices. Increasingly, however, I’ve started using Do Not Disturb more. There’s an option on the Apple Watch to instantly activate DND when starting a workout. Apple also has option for DND which include staying on until you leave a location and until an event ends. I’ve started using the latter of these for while I’m at work. This keeps my Watch from tapping me throughout the day and my phone from vibrating in my pocket, attempting to draw my attention from what I’m doing.

I’ve also limited the number of notifications which can make a sound or vibration on my iPhone. Things like sports or news app end up working as a bit of a news feed in this way. I’ve also taken the time to employ some suggestions from Zac Hall’s article on 9to5Mac on toning down the distractions from the Apple Watch. I’ve personally limited my notifications down to three things:

  • Messages (iMessage/SMS)
  • Health
  • Weather

I want to know important things and these three things are the most important to me. Sports scores, social media updates, email, etc. can all wait. Some of these things, like sports news updates, get delivered to my phone silently to the Notification Center. Email apps and most social media have been deleted completely off my phone.

All of this is part of a process I’m going through to remove clutter from my life, both digitally and physically. It’s all an attempt to think more freely, to quiet my mind, and to really enjoy the things I care about. In the end, I hope to be a happier person.

Apple Watch Pride Braided Solo Loop Band

I love Apple’s solo loop bands for the Apple Watch. They provide a minimal yet classy look for the device while still having a good fit around the wrist. Personally, I bought the dark green braided solo loop earlier this year, and it continues to be one of my favorite bands.

A couple of weeks ago, Apple announced their new Pride bands for the year. One is a Nike sport loop band with the basic Pride colors and some reflective material made for runners. The other is a braided solo loop, which features colors from all the colors of LGBTQ+ flags interwoven among each other. That band is the one I just picked up.

I love this band! I fully believe in basic human social and civil rights, so this gives me a way to show I’m an ally in all of this. On the other hand, it also reminds me of the afghans my grandmother made that I grew up with around the house. This band is really stunning. I love the look of it.

One little note about this band: on the packaging of the band, there’s an App Clip that can be used to set the matching watch face to your watch. You simply open the camera app, point it at the App Clip code and an interface will launch allowing you to select the version of the watch face you like. It’s pretty slick.

I Have to See Things For Myself

I’m due to head to the Atlanta area in a few weeks to attend my cousin’s wedding. As happy as I am for him, I’m also happy weddings are becoming a thing again. I’m happy this is a thing I feel I can do safely, since I’m fully vaccinated.

But, I’m heading to the Deep South. This is where a large majority of the unvaccinated folks in this country live. I’m curious to see just how wild and free folks are being there. Is it as crazy as I’ve seen on TV with hoards of people gathered at all times or is it just people trying to have some sense of normal? Just really how defiant are people about masks?

Yes, the CDC has said those who are fully vaccinated can go without masks now. I live in a city where the mask mandate expired about a week ago. I still wear a mask while I’m on the sales floor, despite being vaccinated, simply because I don’t trust those going without a mask. All of this said, I would say it’s been somewhere around 50/50 for mask wearing. My guess is most going without didn’t accept wearing one in the first place. You get a vibe.

In any case, I’m curious what my travels bring. I’m also just happy I can leave the state for once.

Apple Music Lossless requires wired headphones, AirPods will only get Spatial Audio

Filipe Espósito, writing for 9to5Mac:

To make things simple, here’s the hardware needed for each new Apple Music feature:

Lossless: a wired headphone (except for AirPods Max with Lightning/3.5mm cable)

Hi Res Lossless: a wired headphone connected to an external DAC

Spatial Audio: any AirPods or Beats model with Apple’s W1 or H1 chip (Apple says that users can manually enable this option for other headphones)

On a related note, Apple Music Lossless will not work with HomePod or HomePod mini. Spatial Audio will also be available on compatible Macs.

So, why are we hyping up lossless audio then? The Spatial Audio feature sounds neat. It’s already a trippy experience when watching a movie, so I can only imagine how immersive an audio track can be, especially one with live instruments. But, it’s a bit disappointing lossless formats won’t work with products like AirPods Max or the original HomePod.

Just Listened: Death Cab for Cutie — Live at the Show Box

Live at the Show Box was released on Bandcamp and made available for 24 hours last Friday. I’ve seen DCFC live once before, and they’re a great band live. They know how to freelance well, and they do a good job replicating their studio sound as well. They also structure their setlist well. I can’t wait to see them again soon.

This recording captures their live performances well. Recorded throughout a three-night residency at Seattle’s iconic Show Box Theater, you can hear Death Cab’s energy and passion throughout, even on the more mellow tracks. I’m not certain if the track listing followed their setlist for their shows at this time, but each one fits perfectly into the next. Overall, this is an enjoyable listen that helps maybe bridge the gap a little until we can see live shows again.

I also have to give bonus points for Ben mentioning the Bremerton ferry.

9/10

🎶

Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset: A Brief Conversation With a Bartender

This past weekend, I met a couple of friends down at Juke’s Ale Works in Elkhorn, NE. It was my first time visiting this craft brew hall and I have to say it has a good atmosphere. It’s located in downtown Elkhorn, which I didn’t even know existed until a few days ago. This is the kind of area that looks like the Old Market of Omaha or many other old midwestern/plains area former trade centers that have now shifted to mostly an array of bars and restaurants.

I’m at the bar ordering from the vast selection of in-house brews. I ended up with an IPA called I‘m Quite Aware We’re Dying, which was pretty good. I got to talk to one of the bartenders there who noticed I was wearing my Modest Mouse shirt. I told him I had seen them at the Maha Festival a few years ago where they were the headliner that year. He then told me he had one of the beers there named after their song “Talking Shit About a Pretty Sunset”, in which he said the beer was simply called Pretty Sunset. He said they partially named it that because he wanted it to be where if someone gave it a bad rating on Untappd, the reviewer would then be “talking shit about a Pretty Sunset”.

I definitely got a good laugh out of that one. One of the things I love about craft beer is the various names the beers receive. They’re always unique and sometimes even colorful. It was good to hear the backstory to one of those brews.

A Blank Slate

This is a current shot of my email inbox. It’s empty. Not a thing here. I like it that way. I’m not entirely an Inbox Zero type, but I’m somewhere close. If anything, I’m a neat freak when it comes to any of my tech. I don’t like many icons on my desktop, I use Twitter lists to curate my experience there, and the menu bar on my website here is discrete.

I recently signed up for an account with Fastmail, after seeing it heavily recommended across Micro.blog. I’ve dabbled a little with Hey, but I’m finding I want a little more control in my organization than Hey provides, so I’m thinking of asking for a refund there.

But, the thing I think I’m enjoying the most is having a blank slate with my email. I still have old iCloud and Gmail accounts out there, and they’ll both stay open for my reasons with each. However, the amount of crap that comes into both of those is a bit much. My iCloud email is being forwarded to my Fastmail address, but it’s quickly hit with filters for the smart folders I’ve set up, which are designed to emulate SaneBox as much as possible. There’s also some perks to moving to a paid email service (yes, I’m paying for email), such as pixel trader blocking and just the trust I have that Fastmail won’t rummage through my emails the way Google does with Gmail. There’s also being able to use my domain name.

All of this adds up to me sticking with Fastmail for the foreseeable future. So far, I’m really loving it.

12 South Curve Laptop Stand

I just received my Curve laptop stand from 12 South, so I thought I’d give a quick first impressions review. The Curve is one solid piece of metal with two rubber pads on the forks to keep your laptop from slipping. There’s nothing to set up here and this thing isn’t adjustable at all. It’s meant to be minimal in that regard.

That said, this thing hold my 13” MacBook Air at a great height for me when I’m sitting at my desk. I briefly gave a monitor a chance before this and between the resolution and the way it sat on my desk, it didn’t feel right. This setup with the Curve feels right. I’m only 5’8”, which, I assume, is about average for most people. I don’t have to slouch or anything with how my laptop is propped up on my desk. All this said, I love this thing!

I’m Cooking Again

One thing about having a stimulus payment and a tax return in my bank account at the same time is I have a tendency to go for things I normally wouldn’t under my current budget. One of those things is eating out. The thing about ordering out is you’re not only paying for the food, but also the service. You also usually get more than what would be considered a reasonable portion and in many cases some of the food isn’t worth reheating. This all adds up for some bad cost-effectiveness.

However, since I’ve been dating my current girlfriend, I’ve been cooking at home last night. Last night I took advantage of the nice weather and made some BBQ chicken on the community grill at my apartment complex. It was nice to put together a simple meal like this with some mashed potatoes and green beans on the side.

I really do enjoy cooking, but I often struggle cooking when it’s just myself. I do, however, enjoy cooking for others. I love sharing that. Even better, she’s been cooking more herself because of me. I feel like this could be a place where we bond. I see it as an opportunity to do something together and to share ideas. I look forward to doing more of this.

Now the iPad Pro has to live up to the MacBook Air

Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge:

In short, Apple’s silicon didn’t just catch the Mac up to the iPad, it catapulted the Mac beyond the iPad. The M1 MacBook Air is fast, responsive, has no fan, runs any Mac app I throw at it (including Intel apps) very quickly, and even can run some iPad apps (though that experiment isn’t going super well). It is easily the best general-purpose laptop I’ve used in half a decade.

That big of a leap can’t help but recast the iPad’s development over the years. As just one data point, I’ve used both iPad Pros and M1-based MacBooks as my daily work computer and the MacBook Air has better battery life. An iPad can last for days and days if you just use it for tablet tasks, but log in to all your stuff and run it all day like you do your laptop and it’ll conk out a few hours short of the MacBook Air.

One of the things that made me look at Apple’s MacBook line again was the gains in performance and battery life. Performance was ok on my 2015 MacBook. Battery life quickly became horrendous, making it a thing I constantly kept my eye on while I was hanging out in a coffee shop working on college course work. That’s not how I want to live.

My 2018 iPad Pro still holds up fairly well for most things I do. I don’t really push it with any kind of video editing too often, so I can usually go a few days without charging it. With how I plan on using the MacBook Air I just picked up, I expect the same kind of charging pattern. Two days in and I haven’t pushed it past 50% battery remaining. I’m more than happy with that.

Picked Up a New MacBook

So, I made the plunge into using a Mac with Apple’s own silicon. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of months, weighing pros and cons. Today, I flipped the switch.

I have a 2017 iMac on my desk as I type this. It’s a decent computer. The display is absolutely gorgeous. I won’t even say it’s showing its age, as I believe the thing was just a little sluggish to begin with. I’ve seen the reviews and demonstrations of just how fast the M1 Macs are. I’m used to that kind of speed with my iPad Pro and my iPhone. When I launch an app, I see no reason why it shouldn’t load instantly. The iMac was becoming frustrating to use because of this.

Add in the fact I wouldn’t mind a little extra portability and I felt like I reached a tipping point with this machine. So, I looked into how much a trade-in on that machine would be and found it still would take a substantial amount off the price of a baseline M1 MacBook Air, which I picked up this afternoon.

My first impressions of this machine are “holy shit!”. One of the slowest apps on my iMac was Apple Music. We’re talking it would take 30 seconds for that app to load on screen. On the MacBook Air, the icon makes one bounce and the app is on-screen and ready to go. This is how I expect things to work.

One thing I’ve noticed is the screen size. It’s great with the MacBook in my lap. It’s on a desk where I notice the disparity. I’m somewhere between getting an external 27” monitor paired with a laptop stand like 12 South’s BookArc, or just going with a laptop stand like the Curve from 12 South.

One other adjustment is the keyboard. When I’m mobile, I’m used to typing on the Magic Keyboard for the 11” iPad Pro. That said, I think I enjoy the MacBook in my lap better. Between the bigger base and the bigger keyboard, it seems to suit the scenario of typing in my lap. While on the go, I think the iPad Pro will still be my primary travel machine.

Overall, I’m happy with the new machine so far. Absolutely no regrets in my purchase today.

Got Covid Vaccine #2 Today

Received my second vaccine just now. I hope I don’t have the same kind of soreness I had three weeks ago, as my right shoulder is already hurting (I need a massage badly). The process of coming in was the same as before with basically no wait time.

Hopefully this thing is effective and we can all go back to life as normal, or at least some version of that. It’s hard to believe we’ve been doing this routine for a year. I know I was one naïve enough to think this would all be over with quickly. Luckily, the end might be in sight.

A Little Spring Cleaning

I took on a little organizational project tonight. I have a lot of t-shirts, to the point where I just decided to hang them up. The problem is I have a limited amount of closet space.

So, I bought another cube organizer to put all those t-shirts in. As a bonus, I could organize them by group, such as band t-shirts, sports, and work.

Anyway, I’m happy with the results. First the before:

And now the after:

Ulysses 22 is out

Ulysses has long been one of my favorite writing apps. The problem I’ve had with it is I’ve not quite had a major use for it. Giving me a main reason could give me a reason to pull everything else into Ulysses as well. Well, with version 22, Ulysses has added support for Micro.blog publishing.

I especially love how they describe Micro.blog:

If you don’t know Micro.blog, you should definitely check it out. It’s like Twitter, only without ads, and without likes or retweets, and without posts that are forced into your timeline, and without a character limit that encourages reduction. It’s also decentralized, you own your content, it has themes, and it’s built by a very cool team of really nice people.

I’ve been using the beta for version 22 for a couple of weeks now, and I can tell you publishing to Micro.blog from Ulysses has been great. I suggest checking it out, along with the other features Ulysses provides.

Just got my first COVID-19 vaccine

Since I’m an “essential worker”, I received a bit of a bump in the line for the COVID-19 vaccine today. Lord only knows if I’ve been in contact with the virus or not over the past year. It frankly wouldn’t surprise me if I had and was a-symptomatic. I’ve only been hit hard with the flu twice in about 20-some years, so I figure my immune system is pretty strong. Still, there’s no need to mess around with this coronavirus for as nasty as it’s been.

The Process

Everything with my local health department is fairly streamlined. I went to the link I was given from my job, filled in my personal information and selected a time. They emailed me confirming after that.

From there, I drove to the vaccination center which was at Pinnacle Bank Arena. I filled out another questionnaire dealing with symptoms and allergens, then moved through the line to be vaccinated. The whole process once I was in the building took about 10 minutes. From there, I sat around (typing this) for about 15 minutes to make sure I didn’t have any reactions to it. I go in for my second shot in three weeks.

I hope people do get vaccinated, so we can go back to some for of normal life after this. I look forward to enjoying life at its fullest soon.

Stop Asian Hate

Shannon Lee in response to the terrorist attack in Atlanta and the rising tide of violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States over the past year:

This is where “kung flu” leads. You think it’s a joke and that we shouldn’t be so serious about it. But then there are those who latch onto it with hatred and xenophobia and use it to fuel their fear and contempt until it explodes into heinous acts. This is what happens when we try to break the oneness into separate parts and decide to categorize and rank the parts as good and bad, better or worse, belonging or not belonging. What would it cost you to decide we are all one family? But really? What is lost by transforming contempt to acceptance? It’s time to look within and ask yourself, do I want to be at peace? Can I operate from love? Will I stand with my human family and embody the end of hate? You’re invited to the family gathering. Please join us.

Shannon Lee

Trying Something New

I’ve had the same haircut for the most part of the last 20 years. Basically, Just a high fade, no guard on the sides and back and a three guard on the top. I was a low maintenance style that I never had to worry about.

Well, I’m trying something new. For really the first time since I was 12, I’m attempting to grow my hair out, at least on top. This isn’t a coronavirus quarantine thing, it’s fully intentional. I’ve liked the style on others, so I’ve leaned on the advice of my current girlfriend1 who’s a hair stylist, and I am attempting to do this the right way.

So far, I like what I’m seeing. My goal is to grow this out long enough to lay back, but even now I’m pleased with it. I’ve been graying over the last few years, but I’m embracing it for the most part. I’ve never been interested in dying my hair, so it is what it is. Let’s see where this goes.


  1. Yeah, I have one of those now. Been going since mid-January. Just not wanting to be that person that annoys people about their significant other. Let’s see who reads my shit, right? But, her name is Tracy and she’s pretty cool. [return]

I Love Time to Walk

Lately, I’ve been using Apple’s Time to Walk feature in Apple Fitness+. Here’s how Apple describes the feature:

An inspiring new audio walking experience on Apple Watch for Fitness+ subscribers, created to encourage users to walk more often and reap the benefits from one of the healthiest activities. Each original Time to Walk episode invites users to immerse themselves in a walk alongside influential and interesting people as they share thoughtful and meaningful stories, photos, and music. Time to Walk can be enjoyed anytime and anywhere with Apple Watch and AirPods or other Bluetooth headphones.

I absolutely love this feature. Most Fitness+ workouts I feel excluded from, either for a lack of equipment, or because I live in a second floor apartment and I recently had a new downstairs neighbor move in. I’m fairly certain they would like me doing some kind of aerobic workout above them.

What I love about Time to Walk is it puts you in to the featured person’s world. For example, I just listened to the walk with NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace. The walk is on his property, and you can hear the birds chirping around him and his feet shuffling through the dry leaves below him as he tells his story of coming up through racing. Just for this moment, I feel like I’ve left my usual surroundings and entered his.

The walks usually trend around 35 minutes, thought you’re by no means married to the time. You can go longer or shorter if you like. Metrics are tracked on the Apple Watch like any other walk. The stories I’ve heard have been interesting across the board thus far, and I find their musical choices enjoyable. I find it all to be a good way to get out of my reality for a little while. I definitely will keep using this feature.

Seattle Storm Unveil New Logo & Identity

From StormBasketball.com:

The new logo retains the iconic image of the Space Needle, which sits within basketball ribs. Overlooking it all is the peak of Mount Rainier, representing Seattle’s home in the Pacific Northwest. At the center, a lightning bolt evokes the intensity, power, and purpose of the Storm identity both on and off the court.

The logo’s combined elements bring together both the sleek, innovative aesthetic of Seattle with the natural power in the surrounding Pacific Northwest. The new wordmark uses a more futuristic typeface to better represent the fast-paced and forward-moving city the Storm calls home.

The primary colors, Lightning Yellow, a deep Thunder Green, and a brighter Bolt Green, maintain the legacy of the original Storm brand.

This is the first time the Storm have updated their logo, aside from subtracting the 90s-era Sonics red from the original look in 2015. The Storm came into the WNBA as an expansion team in 2000 as a sister club to the NBA’s SuperSonics. They’ve remained the only professional basketball presence in the city since the Sonics were stolen from Seattle in 2008. Their persistence in using some form of the Sonics original green and gold always makes me smile.

Ben Gibbard talks “Black Sun” and having his own line of custom Fender guitars

Since the late 1990s, Ben Gibbard has been a prominent voice in indie rock as singer-songwriter for the platinum-selling band Death Cab for Cutie. The Ben Gibbard Mustang brings his melodic style to the stage with a modified ‘70s Mustang, featuring a chambered ash body, a 3-way rotary pickup selector switch and a rock-solid hardtail bridge. Watch Ben dive into his songwriting process using his Signature Mustang in our latest episode of Tracks.

For more info on the Ben Gibbard Mustang: fender.com/ben-gibba…

MailPixelBlocker is an Apple Mail plugin for blocking tracking pixels

🔗 MailTrackerBlocker

This is a plugin for macOS Apple Mail which seeks to block the tracking pixels sent in many emails, especially commercial emails. Tracking pixels have become increasingly prevalent over the past few years, and they can report everything from your physical IP address to the kind of device you’re on.

I’m currently on a trial using the email service Hey, which blocks tracking pixels on their end. I’m finding the service as a whole to be superb and the tracking pixel blocking is a nice benefit to have. However, not everyone is looking to potentially shell out $100/yr ($8.33/mo) on an email service, so plugins like MailTrackerBlocker are a nice alternative.

Unfortunately, this is only for macOS, so those who use Apple Mail or any other client on iOS/iPadOS are still at risk of being tracked if you check your email on your phone. Hopefully, this issue has rung enough alarms in Cupertino to make tracking pixel blocking a feature through all platforms.

Apple Watch Braided Solo Loop

I just received my tax return, so I did as one does and spent a little money on myself and picked up one of the braided solo loop bands for the Apple Watch.

So far, I’m loving this thing. It’s super comfortable, to the point I can barely feel I have the watch on. It’s not too loose or too tight. I’m an hour away from the nearest Apple Store, and given the coronavirus pandemic didn’t want to deal with going to a store if I didn’t need to. So, I used John Gruber’s sizing guide to determine which size to get and accurately got a size 6 band. The watch doesn’t move on me at all. It’s a perfect fit.

I love how this band looks as well. There are no clasps or Velcro needed here, since it’s just one seamless piece. That minimalism is something I’m totally into. I think I found my new favorite Apple Watch band style.

On Solitude

It’s hard to ignore the fact that the entirety of Storr’s list of remarkable lives, as well as many of the other historical examples cited above, focus on men. As Virginia Woolf argued in her 1929 feminist manifesto, A Room of One’s Own, this imbalance should not come as a surprise. Woolf would agree with Storr that solitude is a prerequisite for original and creative thought, but she would then add that women had been systematically denied both the literal and figurative room of their own in which to cultivate this state. To Woolf, in other words, solitude is not a pleasant diversion, but instead a form of liberation from the cognitive oppression that results in its absence.

In Woolf’s time, women were denied this liberation by a patriarchal society. In our time, this oppression is increasingly self-“inflicted by our preference for the distraction of the digital screen. This is the theme taken up by a Canadian social critic named Michael Harris in his 2017 book, also titled Solitude. Harris is concerned that new technologies help create a culture that undermines time alone with your thoughts, noting that “it matters enormously when that resource is under attack.” His survey of the relevant literature then points to three crucial benefits provided by solitude: “new ideas; an understanding of the self; and closeness to others.

– Cal Newport in his book Digital Minimalism