Break

Earlier today, I was reminded of a post that I remembered being great, but at the time was aspirational to me. And it shouldn't surprise you that it came from Seth. With this post brought back into the forefront of my mind, it got me thinking about what I'm doing, and how I'm ultimately failing at a lot of things right now.

There are some things that I really need to spend some time on: my physical self, my mental self, my family, my home, my job, my podcast. And the list could go on. But you get the point.

One of the things that I love to do but don't really have the time to do is read. And with the complexity of my life not letting up, I need to get a better handle on life. Part of doing so is removing some of the distraction that I have, and that starts on my personal device.

I'm going to be making a few changes until I get my house in order, so-to-speak. First, I'm going to remove all of the Twitter apps from my phone. Then, I'm going to set up email alerts for mentions and DMs. I'll still be active in the various Slack channels, where I have a lot of fantastic conversation without the politics, hate crimes, and other bullshit that can be seen.1 If I want to see horrible things in life, I'll look at Google or Apple News.

This isn't in retaliation to anything about Twitter nor the people on it: it's still a decent platform for social engagement if you do it correctly. I'll still be using it for the podcast when we announce new episodes, and anything I post will also automatically get posted.

What I'm attempting to do is minimize my distractions, focus on what I need to get done, and get back on top of my life, and hopefully be more productive.2 This will be one less thing I idly read, which can be devoted to other, more important texts. I'm hoping this will spark some creative thoughts along the way, and some introspection that will lead to some good journaling.

I'm also wanting this to kickstart my time for other aspects of life. I'm going to devote time to healthy eating, living, fitness, and relaxation in the form of meditation and yoga. I might use some apps along the way to help me, which would be a far better use of my time than thumbing through a feed. And maybe, just maybe — I can be a better husband, father, family member, and friend.

No matter what, I know this will lead to some good things, even if this feels a bit scary. But now that it's out there, I can't take it back. Onward.

  1. Ok, ok… for the most part. But it's all in good fun there.
  2. As much as one can with all of the other distractions in life.

Convenience

My review of Beatsx

I first started into the world of expensive headphones when I bought my first pair of wired Bose in-ear headphones.1 They were $100 at the time, and it wasn’t much more for the extended warranty. And as it turns out, I’m really glad I purchased it: over the next three years, I ended up exchanging three different pair because the cable had worn out near the connector, causing a short and either choppy or no playback. Upon my fourth exchange, I was done with a wired connection.

I finally stepped into the Bluetooth era, and got some Jaybird X2 earbuds. And for a long time, I was happy. Then I started getting connection issues. I exchanged them under warranty. Then I had the same connection issues on this new pair, even though this time the phone was different. I then exchanged them, this time picking up the Jaybird X3 earbuds.

Jaybird makes a fantastic product — when it works. The biggest gripes I have with the X3’s: 1) the use of a proprietary charger, and 2) the continuation of the connection issues. Both of these drive me insane, but Bluetooth is Bluetooth, and I don’t think it’s any fault of the Jaybird team. In regards to the charger: if I lost this tiny adaptor, I’m screwed. It’s not an item I could go get at the store, like it was on X2’s, which was a micro USB connection. It’s a design choice that while provides the “sweat proof” design,2 is puzzling to me from a customer perspective. There are other minor gripes: the weighting is imbalanced due to the inline controls,3 and there is some minor latency at times (something that Bluetooth hasn’t mastered yet). Overall, it’s a solid option; but I’m still not personally happy with them.

So, while I was recently in the Apple Store to get my wife’s phone upgrade, I was able to try out both the AirPods and the Beatsx Earphones. They were gracious enough to get me the demo models, and two alcohol wipes (which I used liberally for both pair). The setup process on both is really nice. Quick couple of taps and done. And while the AirPods have that bit of magic and whimsy with them, they don’t work for me: they don’t fit my ears well, and they do nothing for sound isolation. Sure, I could get something like the EarHoox, but then I wouldn’t be able to put the AirPods in the case with them on.

Speaking of cases, the Beatsx come with a case, but it’s not really great for the headphones. However, I have found it very useful as a carry case for my lightning cables, a flash drive, and a microUSB cable. I’m usually just wearing the headphones during the day even if not in use, so I don’t really have a need for the case as it was intended. I would like to see some sort of closure to ensure that nothing will come out of it. It’s something that other headphones have, and would be a nice touch here.

The Beatsx sound was very close to that of the X3’s, but only after I messed around with the Jaybird MySound app for a while. The Beatsx sound profile is actually more pleasing to me than other models I’ve tried right out of the box: both the bass and treble are crisp, but not overpowering. It’s a good mix of sound for something that you might wear for a long time. Even though it’s not customizable to the nth-degree, it’s convenient for me to just pop them in and not mess with the sound. They don’t have the sound signature that true audiophiles enjoy, but they would likely work for most people.

There are a couple trade-offs with the Beatsx: they aren’t advertised as sweat proof, so I have to be more careful with them; however, I don’t foresee that being an issue. It’s not quite as good at noise isolation, but only marginally so. And when I use the Comply Comfort Foam Tips like I had on the Jaybirds, they isolate just as well. The tips are well worth the money, as they are more comfortable for my ears over longer listening times than the supplied silicone tips.

The convenience of the Lightning port/cable for FastFuel charge is unreal: no proprietary cable to carry around (or worse, lose), no microUSB cable, no adaptors. Just a standard Lightning cable, which I always have with me when I travel. This makes my everyday carry minimal yet more functional for my needs. And if I forget to charge them, 5 min charge for 2 hours of playback gets me what I need in a hurry.

The W1 chip is a breeze for setup. The range on the earphones is phenomenal thanks to the upgrade in Bluetooth class and the W1 chip pairing: I’ve been able to leave my phone in the basement, go into the 2nd floor room that is on the opposite side of the house, all without losing playback once. I can go anywhere around my house and have a solid signal. With the Beatsx with me, along with my Apple Watch, I’m completely mobile around my house without my Plus-sized phone going with me.

As I’m getting older, I’m often swayed by the ease and convenience of different things: apps, processes, and products. When I’m presented with a choice — in this case between two great products — I’m going to trade convenience for a few minor features. There’s less to think about, less to worry about, and at the end of all of it — that’s the most convenient thing I can think of for my life.

  1. Quick note: I’m considering $100+ headphones as expensive. Most people use whatever they can find that is cheap or is supplied with their device, so most will consider $100+ as a considered investment.
  2. Except that I have heard of people who have gone through several pairs due to sweating so much…
  3. I think they could have done a micro USB charging port on a similar-style inline “weight” to balance the design, and also provide for a standard cable charger. But what do I know, I’m just an engineer.

Piques of the Week – Volume 9

Reduce Tumbler 2-pack

I’ve wanted a stainless steel tumbler for a long time. I’ve owned several vacuum-insulated tumblers in the past, but they are all plastic and break over time (especially if accidentally dropped). I looked for alternatives, and found several brands: Yeti, Rtic, and many more that are all about the same. All of them were anywhere from $15-40 for a single tumbler.

On a recent trip to Costco, however, I found a 2-pack of the Reduce Cold-1 30oz tumblers for $20. I thought I would give them a shot. And I’m a big believer in them now. The day I brought them home (at about 2pm) I washed them, and put ice in my tumbler. I refilled the water several times for the remainder of the day. I placed the cup next to my bedside and fell asleep. When I woke in the morning, I grabbed my tumbler and to my surprise – there was still ice in there!

I highly recommend these if you get the chance to pick them up. I included the Amazon link, but if you live near a Costco, you can save some cash by picking them up there.

Rinfit Silicone Wedding Bands

My wife and I have never had our rings re-dipped since we’ve been married, and I thought this year would be a good year to do it. Additionally, there have been times at work that I have been messing with electrical equipment, and my wife’s rings don’t quite fit her.

So I started looking for alternatives to wear while we get our wedding bands all fixed up. I stumbled upon the Rinfit line of silicone wedding bands. I was able to pick up a simple men’s band in black, and picked up a multi-color pack of women’s bands for my wife. We are both really please with how well they fit and how they can adapt as our hands expand/contract with heat and cold. As an added benefit, I won’t get electrical shocks from this at work. Maybe I won’t miss that metallic taste in my mouth after all…

Fundamentally Broken

All too often, I realize the paths I take in my daily life have problems. And it makes me realize how broken I can be, often times at very basic level. But when I have these moments, I’m able to overcome them through creative methods, past experiences, and most of all friends, and build it back up again. And sharing the problem makes me feel that I’m not alone.

Seth Clifford and I met as all modern-day bromances do: on the internet. Over time, our internet acquaintance has turned into a solid foundation for a friendship. And now, he is one of my closest friends. Through some time, patience, and a lot of some badgering, we are finally taking the next step: a podcast.

A special thanks to the amazing Satchell Drakes for the incredible artwork. I couldn’t be happier with how well it turned out. He is the best!

In the first episode, we talk about the reasoning for the show, and what we want Fundamentally Broken to be. For now, this is going to be monthly-ish: it could be sooner, it could be longer. We are busy with work and family, and sometimes our available time is slim. So it’s just going to be a surprise when you see it pop up in your feed.

Hope you enjoy the show!

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