★ Apple Camp

Every summer, Apple Stores offer Apple Camp for children ages 8-12. This year, they offered 3 different camps: Coding Games and Programming Robots; Creating Characters and Composing Music; and Stories in Motion with iMovie. Malia has shown an interest in making movies and YouTube, so I decided to enroll her in the iMovie camp.

I was impressed overall with the camp. It’s 3 days and each day is 1.5 hours. Enough time to keep them engaged, but short enough that they don’t lose interest. Each camper gets a free t-shirt and an Apple USB flash drive that doubles as a bracelet. They would be storing their footage and creations on these drives.

Each day focused on different aspects of making a film. The first day, they covered brain storming ideas, story boarding, and different filming techniques, such as panning, close ups and landscape shots. The second day focused on editing in iMovie. They took the footage they filmed and started editing in them in iMovie on iPads. And on the last day, they all presented their films for everyone to see.

I was surprised at the level of detail. I noticed when they plugged in their flash drives into Macs to transfer their files, each drive was already labeled with the name of the camper. So when my daughter plugged in her drive, it was already named “Malia” on the desktop. When it was time to edit, each camper was given their own iPad and their own set of Beats headphones so they could only hear their movies. And when it was presentation day, instead of loading each flash drive and double clicking every person’s file, the employees created a Keynote presentation and had each movie as it’s own presentation slide and each movie was preceded by the creator’s name. So that way they could just hit play and not have to load each movie file.

It was a great experience, for myself and for Malia, and I definitely see us doing this again next summer. And it was completely free. Highly recommended.

★ Internet Beer Users

In June of last year, I attended a live recording of The Talk Show. Being the huge nerd that I am, I went by myself. No one that I know is nerdy enough to go to something like this and my wife fully supports my weird interests. I’m totally comfortable going to events on my own and this was no different.

The show itself was great. I had a fun time and I even got to meet other nerds that I’ve followed on the Internet over the years. After I decided I’d had enough free alcohol, I was about to leave when I heard someone call out my name. I thought this is impossible. Having only lived in the Bay Area for a few years, the few friends that I had were not going to be at a live recording of a podcast. I looked in the direction of the voice and saw this guy approach me and ask again, “Jay Torres?” I said yes, and he introduced himself by his Twitter handle, “I’m Nick Pro.”

It’s now July and by this Friday, we will have put out our 26th episode of our podcast. We made our podcast public on February 10  after over 6 months of planning and brainstorming. I’ve always had a thing for making digital stuff. I started a blog in 2001. I’ve been listening to podcasts since 2010-ish and I’ve found them to be interesting and they are now my main form of entertainment. I always wanted to try and make one but I didn’t want to make one on my own and I didn’t know what to talk about.

On that night, over a beer at Cellarmaker, I mentioned to Nick that I’d always wanted to make a podcast and mentioned those two points. He mentioned the same and it kind of clicked. We’re both into tech obviously and we enjoy craft beer. We can talk endlessly about both, why not do that? Here we are, with half a year’s worth of episodes out into the world.

We’ve been having a great time recording it. It gives me something to do aside from being an engineer, husband, and dad, it scratches my creative itch. If you’re into drinking above average beer and/or into Apple, video games, or nerdy things as well, give us a listen. Cheers!

★ 2016 MacBook Pro

About a month ago, I got a new 2016 MacBook Pro. Here are my quick thoughts on it.

  • The hardware is so well built. It is solid. My 2007 MacBook Pro was the generation before they were machined from aluminum blocks. It would flex whenever I picked it up. When you pick up this thing, it is like picking up a 3 lb aluminum slab
  • This is my first Mac with a Retina screen. I’ve used Retina screens since the iPhone 4S but using it on an actual Mac is great.
  • The keyboard is good. I agree with Casey Liss that the Apple Magic Keyboard is the best feeling in terms of travel. This keyboard is loud when you get on a roll, but it’s not as bad as the original MacBook keyboard
  • Having to deal with USB C ports is ok. I picked up a few dongles. One I really like is this one from Satechi. It has 1 USB C, 2 USB A, and an HDMI port.

Being my first new Mac since 2014 and first personal Mac since 2007, I’m super happy overall. Let’s hope this one lasts 10 years also.

★ iPhone 7

I got the iPhone 7 last Friday. Some thoughts:

  • I went from the 6S Plus to the regular size 7. I wanted the Plus more for the larger battery than the larger screen. I found out that the larger battery still wasn’t enough for my typical usage. This time around I went with the regular size 7 and got Apple’s Smart Battery Case. I liked checking the case’s charge from within the OS. And I actually like the “hump”. With my normal usage on the 6S Plus, I would make it to around 1pm until I would have to charge. With the 7 and the battery case, I got the 20% Low Battery warning at 10pm this evening. I start my days between 6am and 7am normally.
  • I did the iPhone upgrade program last year and was interested to see how they would handle those of us upgrading. Unlike others, I was able to get the model that I wanted. After about 20 minutes in line and about 30 minutes in store doing “paperwork”, I walked out with my phone. No complaints.
  • The new Home button is weird for the first few minutes. That’s it.
  • I got the matte black version. In my opinion it looks damn good. The Jet Black is crazy supply constrained. The person helping me said that they did not even have one on display in the store.
  • The speakers are way louder. One nice side effect of using Apple’s battery case: because of the way the case is designed, it takes the output of the bottom speaker and reroutes it towards you. That, along with the new speaker in the ear piece, gives me even better stereo separation.
  • No headphone jack. It’s a bummer but not that big of a deal. I prefer no wires (who doesn’t). I have a Bluetooth speaker and headphones. I added Bluetooth in my car via an adapter a few years ago. My wife’s car supports CarPlay. So there’s never a point where I need to use the headphone jack anymore.

San Jose

Last week, my family moved into a new apartment in San Jose. While we were excited to move into this new place, I could not help but get emotional leaving the old place. It was the first apartment my then girlfriend, now wife, could call our own. I proposed to her in that apartment. It was my son’s first home.

While I’m sad to leave that place, our new apartment is part of a much nicer complex. There is a huge pool, gym, business center and club house. We are almost fully settled and are starting to enjoy our new place.

Baby Equipment

My son was born almost 10 months ago and in the months leading up to his arrival, my wife and I spent hours figuring out the best stuff that we would need. There are many types of lists out there, but here are the things that worked out well for us.

Britax B-Agile

This was the one purchase my wife let me have total say on. After reading reviews, the Britax B-Agile was the best solution in terms of cost and quality. You will want the full system as it comes with the stroller, carrier and base. The base is the most important piece of this. While you can use a seat belt to strap the carrier in, it is MUCH easier to drop it into the base, which stays in your car at all times. If you can, buy more bases and keep one in each car. The stroller itself is easy to maneuver, even with one hand. And you can fold the stroller quickly, also with one hand.

Britax Stroller Organizer

Unfortunately, the stroller doesn’t come with this. We bought it mostly because of the cup holders.

Motorola Baby Monitor

A baby monitor is nice to have. It gives you piece of mind to be able to glance at your baby. This one is a little expensive. There are options if you have a spare iPhone with apps that turn it into a streaming WiFi cam but having to open an app just to check on your baby is not as convenient as having a dedicated viewer.

Ollie Swaddle

Newborns love to be swaddled. The problem is that with the blankets most people use, they’re made of cotton which is not very strechable and unless you’re a master at swaddling, your baby can wiggle out of the blanket. The Ollie swaddle is great in helping keeping your babies arms tight against their bodies but the fabric is stretchable enough to let them wiggle.

Earmuffs for Babies

Babies don’t like loud noises. This can make it difficult to go out to noisy restaurants or keep baby sleeping on a plane. These things are awesome for blocking out noise. If you put them over your own ears, you can see for yourself how much noise they block out.

Ubbi Steel Diaper Pail

There are two types of diaper trash cans; ones where you use the manufacturer’s own bags and ones where you can use any trashbag. I’m all for using your own trashbags. I hate companies that charge a high price to use their own proprietary bags. Go with this one. You can use your own trashbags and it prevents your baby’s room from smelling like dirty diapers.

Udder Covers

I’m all for things that help you, your wife, and your baby have as close to a normal life as you had before. For moms that breastfeed, these are awesome for having your baby feed while you are out in public. My wife says the plastic “V” at the top of the cover is key for helping keep a “tent” open for your baby to breathe and for mom to keep an eye on him/her.

Joovy Hook On High Chair

Once your baby can sit up on their own, these are pretty cool. Most restaurant’s high chairs are dirty and who knows how old. This thing hooks on to a table and you plop your baby in.

Eco Gemini

Pushing a stroller can get cumbersome, especially for short trips to the grocery store. If you want to carry your baby around, this is the best way to do it. It is capable of forward and rear facing your baby. Easily adjustable and easy to put on. Also available in different prints.

4Moms Playard

Once you are up for it, this thing is the best playard, sleeper for traveling. Once our baby outgrew his co-sleeper, we upgraded to this. The co-sleeper was a pain in the butt to assemble and disassemble. When I saw the video for how this worked, I was sold. Literally one button push to set up, one strap to fold and store. As an engineer, this gets my approval.

Breville Immersion Blender

If you want to have total control of what your baby eats, you need to make your own baby food. To puree his food, we used this immersion blender. The advantage of an immersion blender over a standard blender is that you can take this to any pot and blend food in the pot. No need to have to pour contents into a blender. It’s very time consuming and intensive but making your own baby’s food is very satisfying.

OXO block set

Once you’ve made your own baby food, this is the best way to store it. Comes with trays that help keep them organized in your fridge or freezer.

Honest Company

For diapers and baby wipes, we signed up with The Honest Company. They pride themselves in using sustainable components and are free from chemicals, fragrances and allergens. They do a subscription service and my wife gets a kick out of picking the prints his diapers come in.

Having a newborn is very overwhelming but as cliche as it sounds, it’s the best thing ever. I can’t describe the feeling you get when your child smiles at you after you come home from work. Hopefully some of these items will help you with your child. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

Apple Watch Points to the Future

Like the original iPhone, the watch also feels like a physical compromise. The case is bigger and bulkier than the ideal device you would want to strap to your wrist. And while battery life is amazing for a device this small — routinely almost 24 hours on a single charge — it still requires that I remember to pop the watch onto a charger every night.

And yet, after almost eight months, the Apple Watch feels like the future to me.

Probably the best description of the usefulness of the Apple Watch that a non-technical person could understand.

★Year In Review 2015

When I look back at 2015, two things immediately stand out: my new job and the birth of my son.

Back in March, my former coworker called me and asked if I was looking for a new job. She’d recently left her job and joined Daikin. Her position was vacant in the Northern California area and she knew I was living up here. While I was certainly content with my job, I wasn’t satisfied. I’d been doing the same type of work for 10+ years and I was yearning for a change and a challenge. I went through an initial phone interview in March but it wasn’t until a 2nd interview in July that finalized everything.

When I got my first job in the industry, I always admired the factory reps who would visit our office. Not only because they got me answers that I needed quickly, but they were always ready to pay when it came to the lunch or bar tab. I always looked up to the better factory reps I dealt with and I can’t believe that I ended up with the position I have now. Working on this side of the business is definitely different from my previous sales positions but I can’t deny the benefits: I only have to be knowledgable with one product and I get to work remotely. I constantly remind myself of the situation I’m in and look forward to 2016 to do great at my job.

While a new position is a high point for many in one year, nothing beats the birth of your first child. Clyde Jaymeson was born on May 19, 2015. He’s already 7 months old. Seven months is not a long time but so much has happened since he completed our family.

As soon as I found out my wife was pregnant, I was always looking ahead. What’s next. At first, I wondered, is it a boy or a girl? Once we knew that, it was, what will he look like? Now all I wonder is, what will his first word be? When will he start walking? Will he be creative like his mom or technical like his dad. And on and on.

I’m pretty sure every parent can relate to this: All you want to do is create the best life for your child and whatever they want to do or take interest in, you will do everything you can to help them achieve it. I have high hopes for my son. I never knew I’d love or care for anything more than my child. It’s cliche but it’s so true.

I’ve always reviewed the previous year in these reviews, but I rarely set goals for the upcoming year. Looking back a few years, I’ve knocked down a few life goals. In 2013, I proposed and we got engaged. In 2014, we got married. This year, we welcomed our son. For 2016, I hope to have my family in our own home. Here’s to 2016.

★Thankful

Thanksgiving was last week here in the United States. I have many things to be thankful for this year: a new job, beautiful wife, healthy 6 month old baby boy and a loving family.

My family in Napa
My family in Napa

★ Jack Of All Trades

Aziz Ansari released his new Netflix show, Master of None, last Friday. It’s gotten great reviews.

In a New York Times piece, Aziz talks about the issue of race in Hollywood. He criticizes the lack of diversity in leading roles. His last point is excellent:

And to anyone worried that it may be “weird” to cast someone who looks a certain way to play a certain part, because it’s not what people are used to, I say: Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It’s true. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an unsung pioneer for minority actors. Look at “The Terminator”: There had to be someone who heard his name tossed around for the role and thought: Wait, why would the robot have an Austrian accent? No one’s gonna buy that! We gotta get a robot that has an American accent! Just get a white guy from the States. Audiences will be confused. Nope. They weren’t. Because, you know what? No one really cares.

We are only a few episodes in and I like it so far. The episode that a lot of people are talking about is episode 2: Parents. Aziz cast his own parents to play the parents of his character, Dev. It’s a thoughtful episode, especially to those of us who are 1st generation children of immigrant parents.

On his own Tumblr site, Aziz has some follow up to share about his father.

Tonight after we did Colbert together he said: “This is all fun and I liked acting in the show, but I really just did it so I could spend more time with you.” I almost instantly collapsed into tears at the thought of how much this person cares about me and took care of me and gave me everything to give me the amazing life I have. I felt like a total piece of garbage for all the times I haven’t visited my parents and told them I wanted to stay in New York cause I’d get bored in SC. I’m an incredibly lucky person and many of you are as well. Not to beat a dead horse here and sorry if this is cheesy or too sentimental but if your parents are good to you too, just go do something nice for them. I bet they care and love you more than you realize.

With Thanksgiving coming up, now would be as good of a time as ever to thank our parents for everything that they’ve done for us.