The XTS Titanium Pocket Pen + Stylus

A step up from the space pens many like to carry on them.

A while back I snagged the XTS Titanium Pocket Pen from Big Idea Design as a potential replacement for the Fisher Bullet Space Pen I normally travel with. The appeal to me was that it looks about the same, is about the same size, but uses a much better Pilot G2 insert instead of the space pen insert (I really don’t love those). It also looks non-stupid, which is how I more or less describe the bullet look.

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iPad Productivity Report — 4/24/17

It turns out I have a new issue with 12.9″ only life, and also I have some things to say about iOS automation in general.

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I have been experimenting with the idea of using only one of my iPad Pros1 instead of both interchangeably.2 Of course for me that is settling on the larger 12.9″ iPad Pro and the tradeoffs which come with that device.

Over this test period I’ve found that I use only the 12.9″ iPad Pro about 90% of the time. There are simply still times when a smaller iPad is very useful — with book reading being the primary reason I prefer the smaller iPad Pro. Aside from that, the vast majority of my usage has been on the larger iPad Pro, and I peg it at 90% (knowing that is being overly generous to the smaller iPad Pro).

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  1. hashtag firstworld problems 

  2. Hashtag jfc 

Finding a Flashlight Part Three: Flashy Lights

As we draw to a close, I go through a bunch of great lights, and make my one light pick.

So far I have covered flashlights to depend on with your life, and flashlights to always have on your person. Now I want to go over all the other flashlights I purchased to test, which don’t really fit into either of those other two categories. And a few other lights which are on my radar, but have not found their way to my office (yet).

All these lights run the gambit of uses, and looks, and while some could fit into the two categories I already wrote about, for one reason or another I didn’t feel they fit well enough for my criteria. So here we find ourselves, with the poorly named: Flashy Lights edition.

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iPad Productivity Report — 4/17/17

Let’s see what Kickstarter can teach us about iPad hardware needs and the product in general.

It’s no secret to long time readers that I have given up on most Kickstarter products. It frustrates me when an already established company uses the service to launch another product — especially when that product is already a part of their core mix (bag company launching another bag, stand company launching another stand, etc) — to me that feels like wanting all the rewards of a successful product without taking any risk. I am equally leery of new companies because I’ve been burned far too many times by people who have the best of intentions and lack all other skills.

However, there is one good thing about Kickstarter: it shows you what people want. Create a project, get a prototype, put it on Kickstarter (or Indiegogo, I am using those interchangeably here) and you’ll instantly know if there is a market for your product. With that in mind, I searched both services with the phrase “iPad Pro”.

Oh my.

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Maxpedition EDC Mini Pouch

A thing to hold many smaller things, is best kept in a larger thing which holds things like this thing.

One of the bigger trends on everyday carry blogs is the emergence of pouches to carry the increasingly insane amount of shit people seem to think they need. As members will note in my videos, I picked up the Maxpedition Mini Pocket Organizer to test out, and after having used it for quite some time, I have more than a few things to say.

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iPad Productivity Report — 4/10/17

The big ass iPad Pro is the best and only one you need.

In my attempt to figure out if it is better to use one iPad, or two, I pared back my usage to just the 12.9″ iPad Pro. This included two long plane flights and some on-site client time with just the larger device — as well as over a week of working solely on the larger iPad.

And my take away from all of that is: this isn’t so bad at all. My biggest fear is that multi-tasking would suffer, as I tended to use my 9.7″ iPad Pro as a secondary display. My ancillary fears were around how well I would like using the larger iPad Pro as my couch computer — a role which had been solely taken up by the smaller iPad.

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Back to Safari Reading List

Hey look, it works everywhere and all the time, how novel.

When Instapaper shit the bed a while back I left for greener pastures of Pinboard — but for whatever reason I began having a ton of issues with the API not working, and thus not being able to update the apps which I rely on for reading.

This is all maddening. And before you ask: I do not like Pocket.

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Wrights Notes

That thing where someone allows me to be overly specific about what I might want to see in my notebook.

At the end of January a new notebook company launched, with the idea that they would allow you to specify exactly what you want the notebook to be. I was poking around and noticed that they have a custom option for what is printed on the page.

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iPad Productivity Report — 4/3/17

Web design on an iPad Pro, and maybe two iPad Pros wasn’t the right thinking?

I am in the middle of a site redesign and after posting a teaser image on Twitter, more than a few readers sent in the same question: how are you doing that on an iPad? It’s actually pretty easy to design a website on an iPad — since there is no build or compile times you have to worry about. However, people still don’t believe me, so I am going to go over how I do this on an iPad Pro. And in the last part of the update this week, I want to talk about how I am consolidating back down to one iPad Pro.

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Bose QC35s

There are good headphones, and then there are QC35s.

My last pair of noise cancelling headphones was the Bose QC 19s, and I wore them so often that not only was the pleather earpad disintegrating, but I had zip ties holding together various other broken parts. They were a pair of headphones which seemed amazing to me.

Though the sound isolation, the noise canceling, was never great, it was good enough that I was fine with it. Now fast forward to Christmas 2016 and my father gifted me a pair of QC35s, which is only appropriate since I got the QC 19s from him way back when. I put them on right away and was astonished at how quiet the room was, I didn’t believe it. My dad and family were also impressed.

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Right, About VPNs

What if ISPs spent all this money to be able to sell our data, but then we encrypt it all. Suckers.

If you haven’t heard, the Republican Party pushed through a change which removes the FCC from its ability to oversee how data is used from ISPs. Effectively, this would allow someone like say, Comcast, to legally sell your internet traffic records. Things like: the sites you visit and where you visit them — anything you are doing on the web which isn’t HTTPS will be known and able to be sold. Even with HTTPS where you go is still known by the ISP.

This is clearly very bad. The only way to now truly maintain internet privacy (once 45 signs this into law) — even at home — is to use a VPN. This fact has not slipped through the eyes of VPN providers.

Having spent some time using VPNs full time, I need to tell you right now: it sucks. Doesn’t matter what service you use, it’s a lessened experience. The connections are choppy at times, slow at others, and never as fast as your internet connection.

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Fastmail

Life is too short to worry about whether your email will work or not.

From the first day I had the brooksreview.net domain name, I’ve hosted the email myself in various forms — which has been about 7 years now. At first, I hosted with with Media Temple using their built in tools, then as I moved hosts through the years I moved the email hosting with it. Each move was a royal pain in the ass, and typically resulted in at least a long stretch without working email in some way, shape, or form.

About 5 times a year my email would also shit the bed in ways I didn’t comprehend. Plainly put: the advantages of hosting and “owning” my email system was far outweighed by the fact that my email was insanely unreliable.

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iPad Productivity Report — 3/27/17

Future iPad sizes make the decision of which to buy easier, maybe.

I want a to play a little what if, rumor speculation, this week — as it specifically relates to iPad Pros. If we make the assumption that at some point in the next year we will get two new iPad Pro models: one in the 10.5″ configuration, and another in 12.9″ — both with a reduction of bezels overall. The 10.5″ effectively is the 9.7″ model footprint, with smaller bezels to get the larger screen. The 12.9″ model is the same screen size, but reduction of the device footprint to be tighter to the screen edges.

Or, put another way: we get a smaller iPad with a bigger screen, and a smaller bigger screened iPad — though I am not sure that is any less confusing…

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Apple’s New Workflow

I see nothing but upside.

Matthew Panzarino:

Workflow the app is being acquired, along with the team of Weinstein, Conrad Kramer, Ayaka Nonaka and Nick Frey. In a somewhat uncommon move for Apple, the app will continue to be made available on the App Store and will be made free later today.

This was amazing, because it set off a lot of people last night. Workflow was also quickly updated by Apple to kill off a lot of Google based integrations. Most notably for Chrome and switching mapping to Apple Maps.

This was likely a legal move, as Marco Arment noted this morning on Twitter. Even so, the future is completely unknown to those outside of Apple right now. The app will either slowly die, be fully integrated into iOS, or live somewhere in the middle — gaining native integration, but with a more limited scope than before.

And either outcome is just fine.

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iPad Productivity Report — 3/20/17

Diving more into DEVONThink’s failures, and some Pinboard/Pinner issues.

Together with DEVONThink

When I started using DEVONThink I was very skeptical, and not all that enamored with the app out of the gate. I started using it to both track lists of things I would like to buy, as well as various research information which I might never use, but would like to have around.

The deal breaker with DEVONThink for me is the archaic syncing systems. I wanted a tool which would sync in the background, seamlessly, without me having to watch sync indicators before I could even use the app.

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GORUCK 10L Bullet Ruck (version 2) Review

Testing the latest version of one of the best small backpacks out there.

I’ve long been a huge 10L Bullet Ruck fan, as it is a fantastic backpack for the size. Well made, and sized to both be small, but not look stupidly small on a person’s back. This is such a hard balancing act that the Bullet Ruck is the only backpack I have found under 20L which can pull this off for me. That includes GORUCK’s own Echo too.

So, naturally I sold my version 1 Bullet Ruck.

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Adventure Core Nano Wallet

Tough love, I used to do it more.

I’ve been searching for a small tote to help me carrying some of the flashlights I’ve been testing as well as a pen, knife, and lockpicks (seemingly more and more handy for helping friends). I stumbled upon the Microkit from TripleSeven and wanted to get one, but they remain sold out.

So I snagged a Core Nano Adventure Wallet, which started as a Kickstarter project. The idea is a wallet for wallet things, but which can also carry EDC things like those listed above.

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iPad Productivity Report — 3/13/17

I really can’t let this topic of laptop style iPads go, also I am going to talk about that rumored iPad Pro.

It’s hard to escape the upcoming rumors about the possible new iPad Pros coming — but even harder to escape the nonsensical wishes of people better suited to using Macs instead.

Clamshell iPad Pros, Kickstands, Surface Pros, and Shit Like That

When I decided to go iPad Pro only back in November of 2015, I took a few beats to try the biggest iPad Pro competitor: Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4. If the iPad is a “big iPhone” then the Surface is a laptop with tablet-like features. Both are compromised products, but in massively different ways. One struggling to find its place on desktops, and the other struggling to find its place on couches.

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GORUCK GR1: Revisiting the Ultimate Backpack

After roughly 5 years, the GR1 still stands as the best backpack you can buy.

I’ve been saying for years now that the GORUCK GR1 is the best backpack you can buy. But is it still? After testing a lot of backpacks over the years, and continually buying new ones — both inexpensive and bank breaking — I have yet to find a better backpack than the GR1. This post isn’t another review, but rather a reflection of why the GR1 still holds its ground to this day.

It has admittedly been a while since the GR1 was an everyday bag for me, but it is still my go to bag when I travel — be it weekend or longer. I emptied my closet the other day and pulled out a dozen or so backpacks, and started giving them away to friends. The GR1 is honestly just too perfect and thus I don’t need these other packs.

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Finding a Flashlight Part Two: Everyday Carry

Is that a flashlight in your pocket?

Finding a flashlight which my life can depend on is a lot easier than this part: finding something to carry everyday everywhere. A robust, solid flashlight, is easier because size doesn’t matter — all that matters is that it always works and works well.

With an EDC light, there are a lot more factors:

  1. Size: it needs to fit on your person in a manner you are comfortable with.
  2. Longevity: assuming you use it a lot, you’ll want to be able to use it a lot.
  3. Features: you likely will want to vary the light output, among other things.

You also have to value appearance here, because it’s something you are going to be using a lot and you want it to not look dorky (for lack of a better word). I mean, it will, because you are the person with a flashlight, but still.

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