Decluttering, Minimalism, Musings, Technology

My Tech Workspace from 2004 to 2016

Every week, The Sweet Setup interviews an Apple aficionado about his or her computing environment. I enjoy looking at the the products, software, and workspaces these people use on a daily basis; it gives me ideas on what hardware or apps I might want to try out in the future. Plus, I like looking at photos of minimalist desks!

In the process of uploading all of my photos from Aperture over to Google Photos, I came across the photo below. It shows how my computing environment looked like twelve years ago on January 10, 2004. Nearly all of the technology items in the photo are now obsolete, have been recycled, or are gathering dust in my house. The items cost many thousands of dollars in total; I got great use out of some of them, not so much for others.

My workspace circa 2004

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Decluttering, Minimalism

Minimalist Uniform Project – One Year Update

It has been one year since I began my minimalist uniform project. Previous updates featured my nearly empty closet and a check-in at month five. What’s new after a year?

A few weeks ago, I discovered a small hole in the back of my Wool & Prince button-down shirt. I sent photos to W&P customer service, and they sent me another one (which I will be altering to adjust the sleeves). Ultimately, they thought that the hole might be the result of a moth, as opposed to some defect in the shirt. In the meantime, I’m looking at ways to protect my wool shirts from being eaten by moths without using moth balls.

A moth is the likely culprit for this hole in my shirt.

A moth is the likely culprit.

When I take my other gray button-down to be altered, I’ll see if the tailor can repair the moth hole in my original.

Wool & Prince recently released a dressier version of the shirt with a spread collar. I am a bigger fan of this type of shirt over the button-down, and I see one in my future collection.

Over the past year, I bought some additional Icebreaker t-shirts that I was able to find on discount at either or REI Outlet. In addition to the gray short-sleeve shirt that I originally purchased, I added a red, heather gray, long-sleeved gray, and v-neck black Anatomicas to my closet. My original Anatomica shirt is showing signs of wear in the back. That’s to be expected, since I have worn it pretty much every time I went out. When it gets too shabby, I will turn it into an around-the-house or exercise shirt.

Icebreaker Black V-Neck Anatomica Shirt and Bluffworks Pants. Photo taken with prototype Light camera at Code Conference 2015.

Icebreaker Black V-Neck Anatomica Shirt and Bluffworks Pants. Photo taken with prototype Light camera at Code Conference 2015.

As for my two pairs of pants, I am surprised at how well the Levi’s Relaxed Fit 559 jeans have kept, as I haven’t washed them once since I bought it. I used to wash my jeans regularly and was frequently disappointed at (1) how quickly holes developed in the knee area and (2) how the fit got worse over time. I did lose an extra half-inch off my waistline, however, so the pants are a little looser today than when I purchased them. My Bluffworks pants have been reliable and remain relatively wrinkle-free. I still wish there was a 29/29 size option. If I were to buy them again, I’d get the 29/30 length and have the length altered to 29.

Having less clothes that also have reduced maintenance requirements has been great. Folding clothes after doing the laundry is a snap when there’s almost nothing of mine to fold! Finally, I’ve created another pile of clothes that I’ll be donating to Goodwill or Hope.

One year in, and I remain extremely pleased with the minimalist uniform project. I see no reason why I’ll stop in 2016.

Reviews, Technology

The Roost Laptop Stand and an iPad Pro at CES

Last year, I supported the Roost Laptop Stand on Kickstarter. The Roost is a portable, height-adjustable stand for laptops. At home, I use a Rain Design mStand with my MacBook Pro. It’s a nice stand, but it does not travel well. The Roost appealed to me because it was lightweight, foldable, and could adjust its height, features the aluminum mStand lacks.

I’ve been at CES 2016 the entire week, and I had the opportunity to walk the showroom floor on opening day. There is a large section, sponsored by iLounge, devoted to mobile gadgets and accessories. When I turned the corner at the end of the exhibit hall, I immediately saw and recognized the Roost and its inventor, James Olander. I introduced myself as a backer and told him how eager I was to receive the Roost later this month. He graciously fulfilled my Kickstarter pledge right there on the show floor!

On this trip, I left the laptop at home and brought only my iPhone and iPad Pro. Using the iPad Pro as a drawing tablet has been a revelation, but I do notice increased neck and shoulder fatigue while illustrating because I am constantly hunched over. And, while it doesn’t replace the MacBook Pro for all my use cases, the iPad Pro can certainly function as a laptop replacement for many of my needs. If I paired it with an external Bluetooth keyboard (I am still waiting for the TextBlade to ship), the height of the iPad propped up with the Smart Cover) is still lower than I would like. The dynamic design of the Roost allows me to use the iPad Pro for both purposes, and my initial ergonomic impressions are positive.

For drawing, I place the iPad Pro, sans cover and with the volume buttons facing up, onto the Roost. When working in this position, I am more upright, and my neck and shoulders feel much better. Increased arm strain is a possibility, since my hand is now angled upwards instead of resting on the display and table.

To make the iPad Pro more suitable for use as a laptop replacement, I attach the iPad Pro’s Smart Cover and rest the folded triangle on top of the Roost’s two vertical arms.

It’s not as precarious as it sounds and might look, and I am able to tilt the Roost + iPad Pro side to side. See this animated GIF below:

The Roost has medical-grade silicone around the pivoting grips, which provide friction to keep a laptop from slipping. Two reminders when using it with the iPad Pro: first, don’t tilt the Roost towards you, as the iPad will fall out. Second, be sure not to place the Pro in the Roost such that the volume buttons get pressed accidentally in the right pivoting grip.

I’m happy that I ran into James and the Roost booth today at CES. I got my Roost early and was able to chat with the inventor. The product looks and operates exactly as it has been described. And, although it wasn’t designed with the iPad Pro in mind, it works well with it.

If you’re at CES, be sure to visit Roost at the Las Vegas Convention Center, North Hall, Booth 6635. James is sharing the space with Steve King at California Pacific Designs, who is demoing several well-designed Apple accessories. Steve showed me his BASE Apple Pencil charging stand, the FLOAT, an elegant shelf for the iMac or Cinema Displays, and a series of nice aluminum headphone (and Oculus Rift) stands. Check them out!


17,111 Pull-Ups for 2015

I started tracking my pull-ups progress in September, 2014. I recorded 4,672 pull-ups for the remainder of 2014. This year, I did 17,111 pull-ups, which I dutifully logged every day in a spreadsheet.

2015 Pull-Ups Log
January 2,016
February 1,680
March 1,600
April 1,603
May 1,926
June 1,279
July 1,500
August 1,025
September 1,152
October 820
November 1,002
December 1,508

Monthly average was 1,425 pull-ups, with a high of 2,016 pull-ups in January and a low of 820 in October. I tried my best to stick to a three days on, one day off plan, though there were many instances where I took two or three days off in the latter half of the year.

This year, I was able to accomplish my goal of doing 25 strict pull-ups. My sets ended up being in the 10-15-20 range. My daily goal was to hit 100 pull-ups, whether it was accomplished with:

  • 10 sets of 10
  • 4 sets of 15 followed by 4 sets of 10
  • 5 sets of 20

Four sets of 25 proved unattainable this year, as I was only able to do 2 sets of 25 before weakening in my subsequent sets. I also did weighted pull-ups with up to 24 pounds and pyramid pull-ups (sets of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1) throughout the year.

Another highlight of the year was visiting Tompkins Square Park in New York City in September. That park is well-known among the bodyweight exercise community and has been featured in many YouTube videos. Here’s a short video of me doing 10 strict pull-ups at TSP.

I am still practicing the muscle-up but have yet to achieve a clean rep. I am hoping that 2016 will be the year that I can develop the proper form to accomplish that move.

Three more days remain in 2015, but I will be taking them off. I will be well rested when 2016 rolls around.

Comics, Technology

Waiting for TextBlade 2016 Calendar

One year ago, an early press release arrived in my inbox from a company called WayTools. It was poised to announce a revolutionary keyboard called the TextBlade. There was scant additional information on the keyboard, and it wasn’t until one month later on January 13, 2015, that the company unveiled its product website. The TextBlade is a multitouch keyboard that collapses into a pocketable form factor. The keyboard looked to be a great accessory for those that travel frequently who want the feel of a full-size keyboard in a tiny package.


In both the original press releases, WayTools said that TextBlades were entering mass production and would be available in February. Nearly a year later, however, no production TextBlades have reached customers’ hands. Every month, I went to look for a status update at the end of the month, only to see the date for shipping pushed back another month. February became March, which became April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and now December. As of today, the company has not provided a status update on its blog or on its forum in weeks.

What’s the cause for the delays? There’s a litany of hardware and firmware problems on WayTool’s self-described punch list, ranging from the molds for the keycaps being too stiff, over-the-air firmware update bugs, and the occasional (and hard to reproduce) key repeating phenomenon. On WayTool’s forum, two camps have formed, one continuing to encourage WayTools to release a (near) perfect product, and another that just wants the company to ship the d*mn keyboard already. The latter group is also disappointed that WayTools charged their credit cards on order, even though no product has shipped for months. There are examples of people who complained loudly, only to have WayTools cancel their orders for them. In my opinion, customer service at WayTools — at least on the forum — has been especially lacking in tact and manners.

I’ve taken my Logitech K760 Solar Powered Keyboard with me on trips before and wished for something more portable. The TextBlade looked like an intriguing solution, and I was happy to give them $100 for the keyboard. As the year anniversary of the product’s announcement comes up in less than a month, I find my fingers hovering over the cancellation/refund button. What has kept me from cancelling thus far is that I was one of the first people to pony up money for the TextBlade. WayTools has said the earliest orders would get a “substantial” gift. But, I have to draw a line in the sand at some point. So, if WayTools doesn’t ship the TextBlade by the middle of January, I’m out.

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In the meantime, I drew the following illustrations using my new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. This 2016 Calendar take a sometimes humorous, sometimes sad look at the tardiness of the TextBlade product. Which one is your favorite? Tell me by leaving a comment below!