Dissect Podcast

I recently discovered a brand new podcast. It’s called Dissect, and it’s described as a “serialized music podcast that breaks long form musical analysis into short, digestible episodes.” It is currently on season two, where he covers Kanye West’s “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy”, probably one of my favorite albums of all time. If you’re familiar with Serial, the podcast that kind of put podcasting into the mainstream, it is similar in that format. It is highly produced, well researched, and very compelling.

In the first three episodes, the narrator goes over some backstory to set up his analysis of the album. After that, each episode covers a single track. He covers everything from producers, what songs are sampled, guest appearances, and most importantly, overarching themes and lyric meanings. It’s a genius idea for a podcast and I would go as far to say that it is the best podcast I’ve ever listened to. I binged on the existing episodes and can’t wait to listen to more.

If you’re a fan of podcasts and/or Kanye West, give it a listen.

Dissect on Apple Podcasts

Thoughts on iPhone 8 Plus

I picked up an iPhone 8 Plus on Friday, September 22. I go over my logic as to why I picked the 8 Plus instead of waiting for the iPhone X on this episode of my podcast. In short, I really didn’t want to wait until November for the X and the increased cost pushed me towards the 8 Plus.

Since I’m part of the iPhone Upgrade Program, I’m able to bring in my current phone and trade it in for the new one. I went to the Valley Fair Mall Friday morning and while the line was short, there were already a ton of people inside. I waited about 10 minutes before I was able to go in and pick up my phone.

The process of trading in is relatively easy if you go in prepared. The main thing is to back up your phone because you’ll have to restore your phone from your backup if you want it exactly how it was before. I was in and out within 45 minutes.

I picked up an iPhone 8 Plus in Space Gray with 256 GB of storage. Going from a 7 to an 8 Plus wasn’t too much of an adjustment since I’ve owned a 6S Plus previously. The glass back is impressive and I’m sad I’ll have to hide it in a case (a must if you have a toddler). The camera is simply awesome. The one thing I regretted from not getting a 7 Plus was not having the dual cameras and missing out on 2x optical zoom and Portrait Mode.

I tested out Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting over the weekend and I was impressed. I’m no professional but the bokeh effect could fool me if I didn’t know it was from an iPhone. I welcomed going back to a larger screen. I know one of the reasons why I went 7 last year was because it got tiring carrying a larger, heavier phone. I did miss the larger screen when typing and watching videos. We’ll see how long before I start to complain.

All in all, no regrets going for the 8 Plus. We’ll see how I feel once I hold an X in hand.

Undrafted Free Agent

Bill Simmons recently interviewed Chargers rookie kicker Younghoe Koo on his podcast. His story is amazing. Koo came here at the age of 12 and did not speak a word of English. He gets a full scholarship to be a kicker at Georgia Southern. He gets picked up by the LA Chargers as an undrafted free agent and ends up winning the starting job. It’s an amazing story and a great interview.

This week, donald trump ended DACA which allows certain illegal immigrants who entered the country as minors to receive a renewable two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.

Stories like Koo’s is amazing. His story is truly the American dream. The odds were against him, but now he’s playing in the National Football League. Now that trump repealed DACA, stories like Koo’s can no longer happen. Fuck donald trump. Honestly and truly. As a first generation Asian American, I would have loved to see someone who is Asian in a professional sports league. I truly believe if I had someone who looked like me to look up to, I might have taken sports more seriously. I truly doubted myself because I never gave myself a chance. By taking away DACA, people like Koo won’t have a chance here in America.

trump is a shallow, petty, racist old man. It is my hope that he goes away and any changes he made which were rooted in ignorance and racism (which are almost all of them) are reversed.

Go Chargers.

★ 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.