TC 2013

I’m a bit late but here’s another time capsule post where I try to record the best things I discovered during the past year. Everything here is great but the list does go in order of my most favorite things (top) to general fondness (bottom).


I have to admit that I kinda made fun of the BodyBeast weight lifting program when I first heard about it – partially because I was such a loyal Tony Horton fan and because I just didn’t get the whole weight lifting thing. However after taking a look at it and weight-lifting in generalt I was really curious to try it out and now I’m hooked! While I’m still a Tony Horton fan and still don’t have weight lifting thing totally figured out yet I can say that I’m now a huge fan of this program and Sagi Kalev (the series creator). I’ve been doing the program for 6 days a week for the last 34 weeks or so.
Outside my general OCD tendencies I’m not sure what attracts me to the program other than being an interesting/fresh way to stay fit and have a more tangible goal beyond staying “generally fit”. However this line from a Henry Rollins quote does hit on something at play here:  “… I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds.”  I love that quote!

Scooby is a cool weight-lifting dude from California who’s been around a while. I stumbled on to his very helpful website and always entertaining youtube channel this year as I was learning more about weight lifting. He freely gives out great, no-nonsense, non-commercial advice, workout programs, recipes and more to anyone curious about weight lifting and has tons of helpful articles that cover real-world questions on the topic. It’s just a bonus that he’s a fellow geek with computers and video equipment. Oh – he also built his own plane in his garage as a side project … he’s an engineer. Great guy.

How work gets done “at the office” these days has evolved in so many ways over the past decade – the giant game-changer being that 1 out of every 5 Americans now work from home. Sadly though most companies methods of conducting business haven’t caught up with the times. For me, and apparently plenty of other folk (Link, Link, Link, Link …), the idea of working out of your email inbox is just plain crazy. Podio is one of a few “cloud” services out there that solve this problem by letting you create your own online “workspace” where all your work activity (conversations, links, files etc) can be connected and organized in a manner that makes way more sense, reduces email and gives your workflow a giant boost of efficiency. It’s a tough sell for companies who’ve lived in an email client for the past 2 decades but I personally use it for everything now. For the record I loved Podio before Citrix acquired it … but that acquisition definitely gave it a nice jolt of recognition and longevity. Podio has a really great unlimited-time free version for anyone curious to try it out.

Plex is a really slick app that lets me enjoy movies, TV and online video library no matter what device I’m using – from iPhone to iPad to Xbox to laptop to computer. It’s a media center server and client solution that is designed with features actual real-world people would want – my favorite being that it BOOKMARKS the TV and MOVIES you’re watching and remembers your position on whatever device you come back to keep watching it on! Another great feature is the ability to save a YouTube or Vimeo video to a “queue” where you can watch it later from your couch – it’s like Pocket for videos! Plex is easily one of my top 3 most-frequently-used apps on iPad.

In case you didn’t know Google lets you upload up to 25,000 music files (mp3, etc) to the cloud (i.e. Google Play) for free. Melodies is an app for iPhone lets you stream these songs over 3G or WiFi for free. It even, best feature, lets you save albums for offline playback if you want. Worth way more than $.99. Love it!

For web developers and designers the creation and management of “icon” images files can be a huge pain – especially since computer and mobile devices these days all use difference sizes and resolutions. I was the last guy to hear about “Icon Fonts” I’m sure but the idea is that if you use an font instead of images for your web/app icons you can save yourself a ton of Photoshop time. That is cool enough by itself but the site/server Fontello actually lets you create your own custom icon fonts online and download for free. Wicked awesome. I’ll never start a new app using image icons again.

I already posted about this but completing it was definitely an achievement I’m proud of since it was so hard and since finishing any kind of video game these days (as a Dad, a workaholic and fitness nut) is quite a challenging (and rare) feat. I was fascinated by Dark Soul’s ruthlessly high difficulty level and it’s refusal to “coddle” the player with tutorials and “easy mode” options. It was terrifying and exciting at the same time. Can’t wait for the sequel.

This somewhat relates to my love of Podio (above) but I actually stumbled on it a bit after coming to the same conclusions on my own – w/out of course the clarity and insight Inbox Zero contains. So Inbox Zero, as I understand/interpret it, is more of a philosophy/mentality than some specific process or tool – the essence of it is the simple, common-sense notion that your email system is way more useful and your mind is much more efficient when you have a system that keeps your inbox clear. Tactically this simply means when an email comes in you have a list of options to apply to it – but either way it’s going to get removed from your inbox and filed away as a: Delete, Delegate, Respond, Defer or Do item. Sounds super nerdy maybe but late in the year I actually deleted all my email folders and now simply drag everything to a “Processed” subfolder after “processing” each msg for whatever action necessary – so all my email accounts have an empty Inbox at the end of every day. Anyhow – this Inbox Zero thing has been around a while and the guy behind it, Merlin Mann, is a cool dude IMO and is my kind of people – his original talk on Inbox Zero was at a Google event a while back and he was recently interviewed in one of the online magazines I follow.

I have a hard time reading physical books but thanks to audio book technology (my app of choice is Audible) I was able to get through a few books this past year – such as:
Social Business by Design 
Your Brain at Work
Extreme Productivity
Social Media at Work
Enterprise 2.0

I’m not big on following celebrities but this past year I found out that Alec Baldwin has his own podcast – and it’s really an interesting and entertaining show! The show doesn’t have new episodes as often as I’d like, but the archives have some really great guests like Michael Douglas and Billy Joel.

Merlin Mann (mentioned above) does a few different podcasts – this one is my favorite. Sometimes they talk about productivity and inbox-zero type stuff… and other times (quite often) they talk about pretty much anything else – but it’s usually always entertaining whatever he and his co-host end up talking about.

A 30-something dude who works for a gaming news company and currently building his online presence via YouTube and Twitter. For multiple reasons Greg is my kind of people and reminds me that there are normal but interesting people still out in the world that I’d be friends with if they lived in my area – sadly he lives in California. But I keep up with his various YouTube shows and updates at IGN pretty regularly. To be honest though, Greg’s colleague Colin is a fascinating dude as well – I’d have trouble picking a favorite between the two of them because besides his scary amount of knowledge on American history and pretty much every other topic you could think of Colin is a also huge 311 fan just like me.

Great iOS app that puts a whole new spin on learning the Japanese language. Sadly there’s a limit to what I can learn with the amount of free time/focus I can carve out of my schedule but it’s still a really cool app. Anyone interested in learning a little Japanese (both hearing, reading and writing it) should check it out.

This is a site that has a plethora of interesting editorial articles by various authors on pretty much every topic. Honestly 84% of them are over my head or not covering topics I’m concerned or educated about – but the ones on Design and other topics are always interesting and though provoking. Editorial sites are a dime a dozen these days but Medium seems to have a consistent high level of writing quality and visual polish that stands out (IMO).

I rarely get around to checking up on things with Flipboard lately but when I do want to catch up on all the latest news from my various social circles (Twitter, Facebook, RSS feeds etc) using the Flipboard app on iPad or iPhone is way easier than using multiple apps for each social network! Thanks to Donnie for reminding me about this app.

Ok that’s my list. Now to start discovering new stuff in 2014!

Strong and SETS

1461529_523644671076609_2032885128_nI recently found a workout logging iPhone app named Strong from Endangered Apps and had to post about it (for my millions of readers of course). It doesn’t have any bloat – just the basic features you need – workout logging, custom exercise and routine management, history/stats and import/export abilities. On top of everything, the UI is very clean and easy to use. If I was being picky I’d say I wish the workout controls were more “fat finger friendly” (I have large hands!) but that’s a nitpick really.

Aside from it being a great app the reason I’m posting about it is because once I found the app I was able to abandon an app I had been (slowly) working on for the past year or so. The app I was building, tentatively named “SETS”, was going to basically do most of what the Strong app does – but it just doesn’t make sense for me to finish mine since Strong does everything so well.

Since I’m mothballing my app I figured I should post a couple images of it for historical/reference – so click the images below to see the “SETS” app icon and some screenshots of what it was going to look like.

Anyhow – thanks @strongapp! Love the app! Now to think of a new app I can start building … hmm.

Zelda 3DS

I just finished the 3DS title “The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds” tonight. While it was a 30% easier than all previous Zelda games I’ve played it was a great adventure and honestly I appreciated the lower difficulty and it’s focus on just being a fun game to play. The way they let players rent/buy any item they wanted whenever they wanted was also a welcome change compared to the age-old method of doling out 1 item per dungeon.

As always the gameplay, music, story and characters were all top notch (IMHO) – I would expect nothing less from the Zelda team. Thanks guys – cant wait for the Wii U Zelda game!

Here’s the IGN review of the game:

Rocky Playlist

I’ve recently decided/discovered that my (Body Beast) workouts are double the fun with some (really loud) tunes playing on the sound system. I’ve been experimenting with all types of music – from metal, rock, techno and Eminem – but I have to say so far my favorite playlist is a collection of tunes from the best Rocky movies and a few funk/soul selections from the same era. See the playlist below to see the tracks – if you’re logged in to Spotify you can preview the tracks via the playlist window below.

Anyhow – I’m sharing this list here in hopes that others will have suggestions of similar style songs I could add to the list because I’ve run out of ideas for it – so please chime in with suggestions via the comments below if you know of songs that would fit in!