February 16, 2020
Music Blast From The Past
A long long long time ago (like 20 years ago) I once thought I could make music. More specifically, electronic music. I had a lot of stuff going on back in this time of my life and I have to think I was using this as some kind of expression to get things out of my head. 🤷♂️
I no longer have the original files for these songs, or even remember what applications I used to make them. This was pre-Mac for me, so it would have been some collection of PC programs?
Anyway, a couple of them I find to be ‘ok’, but most of them are not good at all.. I imagine anyone listening to them now will not be into them in the slightest, and although I do not recall exactly what was going through my mind when I made them, I do still to this day feel some sense of connection to them.
I put them all below in this blog post mostly for myself as a way to preserve them. Take a listen if you have run out everything else to do on the internet. 🎧
- The Anthem
- Project Phaded
- Slip N’ Slide
- Doppler Effect
- Doppler Effect - Power Down Remix
- Falling Right Side Down
- Fill The Void
- Outspace Scratch
Download All (.zip)
- The bitrate is not super high. They range from 96-192 kbps. 192 was “all you will ever need” back then. 😬
- I cleaned up the MP3 metadata since it was all garbled.
- They were never meant to be all together, so I chose an order when writing this that made sense to me.
- I am not sure how I came up with ‘PurpleZero’. I’m sure it made sense 20+ year ago.
- I kind of know what the song names meant from the time. Except “GL1”, no idea what that means.
February 13, 2020
‘My Setup’ Page
Like my favorites page, I wanted to put together an illustration of what my ‘current computing setup’ looks like in terms of devices and go-to software. I initially started this journey in Omnigraffle, as I often do, to create a pretty illustration of what my setup looks like. As I got part way through the design, an idea jumped out at me; I should try to build it as native html rather than a vector illustration! Building it natively would make for a good learning experience, and would also make it much more accessibility friendly.
I knew what I wanted it to look like, so I saved the Omnigraffle document, closed it, and opened Nova to set out on my (self imposed) web challenge!
The beginnings of the Omnigraffle design work
I had a basic shell of what it would be within about the first hour. Then it was time to tweak tweak tweak tweak! After working on it in between other things I had to do that day, I got it almost all the way done relatively quickly. I just needed to get the layout of the individual boxes working correctly. Valerie (@alcedine) to the rescue! She helped me get
display: inline-flex; working properly and some other css changes to clean things up a bit and get it looking right! And now, I have this!
It’s definitely not anything super advanced, but I am quite proud of it!
I added it to my CodePen, in case anyone is interested in that kind of thing.
What it looked like in Nova
January 24, 2020
Let There Be.. Dark!
I have been wanting to give this place a facelift for some time and that time has arrived! I went with a Dracula inspired theme because I absolutely love the color palette.
For some time I was working on/managing a light and dark theme that auto switched based on the user’s system scheme preference.
@media (prefers-color-scheme: dark)
This got to be a bit of a pain and I wasn’t really happy with either of the themes. I scrapped all of that and went with just the one theme and am much happier with how things look now!
The theme consists of the following colors:
Dracula all the things!
January 1, 2020
2020. Mark As Complete.
Not ‘resolutions’. Just some things I want to get done. ✅
Five things that will find closure for me in 2020.
Release a board game.
It’s been in the works for a while but over the past few months it has gotten a lot closer to being realized. It’s time to push it across the finish line.
Edit and publish a short story on my blog.
I had started a NaNoWriMo in 2017 (maybe 2016?) and got about 70% of it put down on paper. I would like to edit this into a short story and post it on my blog so I can close this project for good. If I choose not to finish it, delete it and move on.
Move from Silicon Valley.
We are moving onto our next chapter! We have been in ‘The Valley’ for a very long time and some fresh views and perspectives will be a welcome change in 2020.
Change career path.
I have been in product management / development for a while, predominantly in the area of Med Device related to arterial structures. My gut is telling me it’s time to explore alternate paths and put my skill set to use in another area.
Start a new unrelated project.
Much like my board game endeavor, I want to get another project going that is out of my comfort zone and creative.
Bonus: Complete the remaining classes needed to complete my degree.
Wishing everyone a happy and productive 2020! Let’s make it a year for positive change in all aspects of life, self, governance, and the world. 🎉
December 13, 2019
AirPods Pro - First Flight Test
Today was my First flight using AirPods Pro instead of Bose Quiet Comfort headphones!
So how did it compare?
- I can’t say enough how much better it is to have the tiny AirPods case compared to the giant suitcase you have to carry for the Bose (and other over ear headphones) to fit in. One less giant thing that is required to travel.
- This is subjective, but I think the Active Noise Cancelling of the AirPods is as good or better than the Bose.
- The ability to quickly switch between Active Noise Cancelling and Transparency mode is great. I really like not having to remove headphones to talk to someone or hear an announcement.
December 9, 2019
Purchases That Didn’t Work Out
With the end of the year being about buying things and ‘super good deals’ I wanted to look back through 2019 and list out the things that I have purchased this year based on solid recommendations/reviews that turned out to be not that great for me.
See this post. It was never quite right for what I wanted it to do.
See this post. I tried to like it, but I don’t like typing on it.
Elgato Stream Deck
The LCD buttons did not feel good.
The quality was not what I expected it to be.
Elevation Labs DraftTable for iPad Pro
Not really compatible with newest iPad Pro.
Elevation Labs Family Charger
See this post.
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
See this post.
HomeSpot Bluetooth Transmitter for Nintendo Switch
Setup was annoying and it never consistently connected.
BlanQuil Weighted Blanket
Product was fine. Weighted blankets just aren’t for me.
Sony WH-1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Headphones
See this post.
HORI Split Pad Pro for Nintendo Switch
See this post
PowerA Joy Con & Pro Controller Charging Dock
Not nearly as elegant of a solution as I was hoping for.
November 22, 2019
Mac Mini Dock - Satechi Hub
Price: $80 USD
If you use a Mac mini (2018), you know it’s nice to have so many ports on the back for connecting lots of peripherals. The only issue that comes up is with reaching around to the back to access them. Most of the things I plug in stay connected permanently, so no big deal for those. Sometimes you need to plug something else in and having ports on the front would be a convenience. Fortunately, I think I have found the perfect solution! The Satechi Aluminum Stand Hub for Mac mini.
The unit sits perfectly under the Mac mini and looks great. The space grey aluminum color differs slightly from the Mac, but it‘s close enough. It includes vents for air flow and has non-slip feet. This may not seem like a big deal, but the bottom of the mac mini is slippery on my desk, so now it stays put if it gets bumped.
The hub uses only one of the USB-C ports on the back of the Mac mini and adds the following ports to the front for use. Check out the photos below.
- 1x SD Card Slot (They go in upside down for some reason? It has a nice click when inserted.)
- 1x Micro SD Card Slot
- 1x 3.5mm Headphone Jack
- 3x USB 3.0 Ports - 5GBps (The ports are very loose when inserting a cable. Connection is fine though. It’s actually kind of nice to not have to pull so hard to get a thumbdrive out.)
- 1x USB-C Data Port - 5GBps
*All the front USB ports do appear to provide charging, although I am not sure how much power is being provided. I plugged in an iPhone 11 Pro with a
USB-A > Lightning cable and a
USB-C > Lightning cable.
The build quality is very nice, and the convenience is fantastic!
November 19, 2019
Raspberry Pi 4 + Touchscreen
Whether it’s HomeBridge, a Minecraft Server, a Network Wide Ad Blocker, a Home Weather Station, or something else entirely, the Raspberry Pi has you covered. The Raspberry Pi has always been an amazing tool since it first launched, and the latest unit is no exception.
I recently picked up a new Pi and a few accessories so I could move my HomeBridge setup from my Mac mini to the new Pi and tuck it away. This project is not terribly different than other Pi projects I have done, but one difference this time is connecting up a small touchscreen to the unit so it’s still “headless” but has quick access without the need for connecting a keyboard and/or mouse in case of any errors that may occur.
Here is what I got for this project:
- Raspberry Pi 4 Model B - 4GB RAM ($60 USD)
- Raspberry Pi 4 Touchscreen Kit, MazerPi 3.5 inch ($30 USD)
Some other items you may need if you don’t have them around already.
- USB-C Power Supply
- Micro HDMI Adapter
It’s pretty neat having a Pi, a case, and a small touchscreen all packed together in one small cube. To be able to have an entire computer with touch input, that can run off a USB power bank is just plain cool!
I am running this Pi with plain old Raspian (version: September 2019), so you may have better or worse luck with different OS options on the Pi.
A couple shortcomings of the LCD
- Some windows just can’t get small enough to entirely fit on the screen, so you will want to make sure you have some kind of remote connection available (VNC, SSH).
- After enabling the LCD, it disables both of the HDMI outputs. Which is fine if you were planing on running the unit “headless” but if you were looking to use this as an aux screen, that’s a no go with this unit.
November 14, 2019
Playing Games - Luigi’s Mansion 3
Photo Credit: Nintendo
Luigi’s invited to the towering Last Resort hotel, but when Mario and friends go missing, our green-clad hero will have to conquer his fears to save them!
With so many solo games out there to play, I was very eager for this one to hit the eShop. Luigi’s Mansion 3 is a proper co-op game that is packed with fun! This game instantly feels like a Nintendo classic that pushes all those buttons that Nintendo is so good at. Although this is the third installment in the series, the game feels fresh and new in almost every way. All the mechanics not only feel good from a control standpoint, but they add delight to the whole experience.
Photo Credit: Nintendo
The addition of Gooigi as the second player works very well. I like that it’s not just an exact copy of Luigi but he performs his own unique moves and actions, meaning it’s not just an optional character, but an essential one. Because of this, you do also have the option to play solo and switch between the two depending on what abilities you need for a given challenge. One of my favorite things is how much of the environment you can suck up with the Poltergust! (Most of the stuff you don’t need to suck up, but you want to just for the fun of it!) 👻
Graphically, the game is beautiful and runs great on the switch. The game has smooth transitions, and solid load times throughout. The art style is delightful, and the detail is quite rich in each environment.
Photo Credit: Nintendo
Slam, blow away, and vacuum up ghosts with the all-new Poltergust G-00, and join forces with Gooigi to overcome the puzzling contraptions and mischievous boss on each themed floor. And that’s just the Last Resort. Enter the ScareScraper for 8-player local wireless or online co-op gameplay.
Available in both physical and digital! It’s a solid get!
October 29, 2019
HORI Nintendo Switch Split Pad Pro Ergonomic Controller
Price: $50 USD
As much as I love the concept of the Nintendo Switch, playing in handheld mode is not what I would consider enjoyable. The Joy-Cons are ok for very short stints of play, but for me, they are crippling after a very short time using them. I play the Switch in ‘TV Mode’ 98% of the time using a Pro Controller.
The Split Pad Pro on the surface looked to be a merge between the comfort of the Pro Controller but attachable to the Switch like Joy-Cons, so it was worth a shot to give them a try.
I have been using them for about a week, and here is what my takeaways are. (Keep in mind, this is for me, so it may be different for your needs!)
- They are not Bluetooth and will only function attached to the Switch.
- The joysticks are pretty solid and feel good.
- The A, B, X, Y buttons are suitable, not too mushy.
- The +, -, Home, and Screenshot buttons are rubber for some reason. I would rather them all be hard plastic.
- There are “Assign” and “Turbo” buttons on each controller. I don’t have any use for them.
- The controller is branded for Daemon X Machina, but I am not sure why?
- Because of said branding, the “X” button is stylized, and that makes it kind of weird to look at.
- The shoulder buttons are just ok.
- There are additional “FL,” and “FR” triggers underneath where your middle finger would rest. I don’t have a need for them.
- Overall the controllers feel very hollow and light.
- Although they are labeled “Ergonomic,” they still aren’t anywhere near as comfortable as a Pro Controller.
- When attached, the Switch is MASSIVE.
Bottom Line For Me: They are somewhat better than Joy-Cons but worse than a Pro Controller. I can see this fitting a very specific need though, so it may be worthwhile for you to give them a try.
October 21, 2019
Making A Board Game - Part 4
It’s been a little while since the last update, but I have made a little bit of progress in a few areas!
- I now have a name for the game creation company! 🎉
(This isn’t really necessary, but it was fun coming up with a name and logo)
- I have ordered the first set of play testing printed components to try this thing out with actual people. 😱
I am so excited to see the components and actually hold them in my hands. Up until now all the components have been hand made and printed out at home with a laser printer.
I decide to hold off on printing game boards this round for two reasons. They are quite expensive to create as one offs and until I am sure about the actual gameplay mechanics, I don’t want to finalize the boards in case they need to change due to the interactions with the other components.
Obligitory Teaser Screenshots 😉
Making A Board Game - Part 3
Dusting Off An Old Project - Part 2
Dusting Off An Old Project - Part 1
October 21, 2019
Playing Games - RiME
RiME is a relatively short game but felt like the right length to accomplish the storyline. The music was beautiful and thoughtfully executed. How the game art is styled and colored gives it a unique feel that gives you a great visual experience to enjoy as you play through. The play-through gives you the right mix of puzzle and story throughout. I enjoyed the storyline quite a lot and appreciated how little clues were given throughout, but not enough to spoil anything.
The problem that this game suffers from was the performance. I played this game on the Nintendo Switch, and it was an atrocious experience. Horrific frame rates and stuttering throughout. Every time I found myself being immersed in the story and character, the frame rate would seemingly crawl to 3 fps and ruin the whole experience. This port was not ready.
I would recommend the game to someone to check out, but be sure to play it on some other platform (PS4, Xbox One, Steam).
RiME is a single-player puzzle adventure game about a young boy shipwrecked on a mysterious island after a torrential storm. Players must use their wits to decipher the challenges and secrets of an expansive world strewn with rugged terrain, wild creatures and the crumbling ruins of a long-forgotten civilization. With subtle narrative, colorful artwork and a sweeping score, RiME offers players a meaningful journey filled with discovery.
October 18, 2019
Transfer Nintendo Switch Screenshots Wirelessly To iOS Photos
If you use a Nintendo Switch and have ever used the screenshot function to capture a cool moment that just happened in a game, you have no doubt run up against the monumental pain in the ass that it is to get that screenshot off the device. Sure, you can post to Twitter and Facebook🤢 natively with the Switch, but what if you don’t use either service and prefer something else, like, oh, I don’t know, Micro.blog. 😉
I finally have a pretty ok way to do it! I won’t say it’s fantastic, but it’s reliable and is a heck of a lot better than the alternative: Turn off your Switch, remove the Micro SD card, plug the SD card into the computer, transfer screenshot, put SD card back into the Switch, and finally turn the Switch on. 🤬
Ok, so what am I doing now? Here is what I set up to get a screenshot from my Switch to Photos.app on my iPhone/iPad/Mac.
Remember, it’s not 100% perfect or ideal, but it is functional.
- Create a trash Twitter account (if you don’t have an account), and log in to that account on your Switch.
- Go to IFTTT and create a new recipe using the
iOS Photos ingredients.
- Setup the rule to trigger:
If New tweet by twitter_username with hashtag #NintendoSwitch, then Add photo to album.
note: I left he part with the hashtag since the Switch puts it in every post, and I wanted to make the process as quick as possible.
That’s it! Now when you “post” a screenshot to this twitter account, it triggers IFTTT to copy the photo to Photos.app.
Current issues with this setup
- It only grabs photos and not the 30-second clip videos. If you try it with a video clip, it will come through as a photo of the first frame of the video.
- You do have to have a twitter account since it’s one of the only two ways to share with the Nintendo Switch currently. If you already have an account, you are set. If you don’t, you would need to set up a trash account as I did.
- The resolution is not great. Need to figure out a way to pull a higher resolution version of the screenshots from Twitter.
- It’s not immediate, but SO MUCH better than the alternative I mentioned above!
September 25, 2019
iPhone 11 Pro & Apple Watch Series 5
Prior to September 20, 2019 I was using the iPhone X and Apple Watch Series 4. I haven’t skipped an Apple Watch generation so far, and the iPhone XS was the first iPhone I have ever skipped. The announcements at the September Apple Event had me very excited to upgrade to the new iPhone and watch this year.
There is no shortage of “real reviews” for both devices so I will not try to replicate that yet again, but rather provide some bullet points that may be interesting to both current users or prospective users.
What I Got:
📱 iPhone 11 Pro - 256GB - Midnight Green
⌚️ Apple Watch Series 5 - 44mm - Titanium
With that background out of the way, here is what I am thinking and feeling about both the phone and watch!
iPhone 11 Pro 📱
- Battery life. WOW!
- The super wide angle camera is so useful.
- The three camera system is fantastic!
- The night mode photos are UNREAL! Voodoo!
- The Midnight Green is gorgeous.
- FaceID does feel a bit faster. Not like 2x, but faster.
- The matte frosted glass on the back feels great and looks awesome.
Apple Watch Series 5 ⌚️
- The titanium looks great!
- Having an always on screen is very nice for glancing.
- The titanium felt much lighter than my Series 4 stainless steel at first, but after a week or so I don’t notice it.
- The compass isn’t something I use with any regularity, but having better directional walking directions is helpful.
- If you have a Series 4, you probably don’t need to upgrade, but anything prior to Series 4, I would say absolutely upgrade.
I will add any other little things I come across, but in the meantime if you have any questions, shoot them my way and I will do my best to answer them for you!
My Series 4 is for sale if you are looking for one one in great condition!
September 8, 2019
The Apple Card Experience
A fairly thick unmarked white envelope with what is obviously a plastic card on one side is usually what you find in the mail when you sign up for a new credit card. This type of mail hits mailboxes every day across the globe, and no one cares or gets excited about it. Do they need to be excited about a new credit card? Probably not, but what would it be like if you were?
Ordering and receiving the new Apple Card is meant to be a memorable experience, no different from any other Apple product you purchase. But Apple Card isn’t a product, you say. It sure is a product, just in a different category. There is speculation on both sides as to whether Apple should be in this market. As far as I am concerned that is all based on opinion, and you know what those are like; everyone’s got one.
From the build-up, to launch, to receiving the card, it was Apple style and elegance all the way. Sign up was as simple as entering a few pieces of information into your iPhone, and you are presented with an instant decision and credit limit info. At this point, you can immediately begin using the card via Apple Pay until your physical card arrives in the mail a short while later.
The physical card is not even close to any card you are carrying today. There are cards out there made of materials other than plastic, but the titanium Apple Card has a few other surprises up its sleeve. Starting with information on the card, or lack of information may be a better way to put it. No credit card number, no expiration date, no CVV codes. Just your name on the front. Someone can take your card, but they won’t know any of the relevant information. A would-be thief can of course still swipe it, but given the ease with which you can disable the card from your phone, it won’t take long to shut them down.
Activating the card is a simple tap of your phone on the packaging. Avoiding the back and forth of calling phone numbers and entering numbers or waiting on hold to talk to someone. The photo below shows the packaging and the ‘tap to activate’ portion of the packaging.
The magic happens when you start using the card and reviewing your purchases with the Apple Wallet app on your phone. Purchases are broken up into categories, and everything in the statement is clear, concise, and human-readable. Each type of purchase has a color associated with it, and your card will begin to take on a beautiful pattern of colors as you use it each month. Paying it off at the end of the month wipes the card clean, and you start with a clean canvas for the next month.
Love it or hate it, it’s here, and I feel it’s a great product, and this can be a helpful step in changing the ugly world of credit into something beautiful.
Apple Card Rewards
- Daily cashback deposited into your Apple Cash account.
- 3% Cash Back on Apple purchase (in-store, App Store, iTunes Store, Apple Services), as well as selected partners.
- 2% Cash Back on all Apple Pay purchases.
- 1% Cash Back on all purchases made with the physical card.
Jason Burk | 1999-2020