Yours truly on my new Gear page:
As a tech guy, I’m often asked what equipment I use (or recommend) for this or that. I’ve decided to make this page a collection of current gear, updated frequently.
Yours truly on my new Gear page:
As a tech guy, I’m often asked what equipment I use (or recommend) for this or that. I’ve decided to make this page a collection of current gear, updated frequently.
I’ve been trying to analyze our finances and find areas where I can save money without losing much. One area that I focused on was media consumption, primarily television.
It took a lot of research, but I settled on what has been a great setup for my family. It gives us most of what we want and none of what we don’t want. Here’s a look at my decision process and the end results.
Before making any big decisions, I wanted to be positive I’d be getting certain things from the new setup.
I looked into antenna based systems and many of the online streaming services (such as Sling, Vue, DirecTV Now, Hulu, YouTube TV, etc). While I couldn’t find a solution that was 100% perfect, I did settle on one that I’m more than happy with.
It should be noted that my results include using AppleTVs, but you could also use Amazon Fire devices and AndroidTV with no issue. As a bonus, my setup includes automatic commercial detection and skipping for DVRed shows.
In the end, my upfront costs ended up being $225 and my monthly recurring costs are $18. No hidden fees, no contracts, perfect.
For this setup to work with LIVE TV, you’ll need the following equipment.
If you’d like DVR capabilities, you’ll need a little bit extra.
The setup for live TV is surprisingly simple. Plug the HDHomerun into your antenna and your router. Power everything up.
Then download the Channels app on your AppleTV, Fire Stick, iPhone, iPad, or whatever device you’re using. Once you set the app up, you should be watching live TV in your house without issue.
This step is the most complicated part of setting everything up, but it’s still very doable. First, you’ll need to subscribe to the Channels DVR feature for $8/mo (no contract).
One subscribed, download the DVR feature software onto your computer and install it. It isn’t very complicated. In the process, you’ll be able to choose options such as commercial detection and DVR storage location.
Once you’ve done that, all that’s left is logging into your DVR in the Channels app on your AppleTV, iPhone, etc. This will allow you to access your DVR from anywhere in the world.
There aren’t many drawbacks once everything is set up, but there are some considerations and exceptions I’d like to address.
We’ve now been using this set up for a few months with no complaints. The Channels app is much better than DirecTVs app (and TiVo’s app). Commercial detection and skipping is incredible.
We even invited people over for the Super Bowl and watched it without issue. I don’t think I’ll be making further changes to what we currently have in the near future.
If you have any questions or need help, reach out to me on Twitter.
With the radical new design of the iPhone X, I had to rethink my home screen background and apps. This is how my iPhone is currently setup.
A few notes:
I’m always tweaking things here and there, so no telling how long this will last.
I’ve now had an iPhone X for about 2 weeks. Unlike those who post reviews after having the phone for a few hours, I wanted to give time to develop my opinions after some serious real-world use.
Overall, I think it’s pretty easy to state that the iPhone X is the best iPhone1 ever made. It isn’t perfect and it needs some refinement, but it’s an improvement over previous models in so many ways.
When you first pick up an iPhone X, you’ll quickly notice that it’s heavier than you might have thought. This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it makes it feel solid and well made. The glass back gives the phone a grippiness that the iPhone 6/6S/7 line didn’t provide.The size of the phone is much closer to the 6/6s/7/8 than it is to the plus-sized counterparts.
But enough about the boring stuff, let’s talk about the two things everyone wants to talk about: the notch and the lack of a home button.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was skeptical about the notch. In product photography, it isn’t very appealing. A phone with Batman ears just doesn’t seem to make much sense. In practice; however, it’s actually quite elegant. You rarely notice the notch at all2, it just seems to disappear when you’re using the device.
The lack of the home button did take some getting used to, but after a couple of days, I’m more than happy with it. In fact, when I pick up an older iPhone, I already try to swipe up instead of clicking the home button. It’s a surprisingly natural gesture and works smoothly.
And man, that screen. Apple was late to the party, but their OLED screen is surely beautiful. Combine the screen with TruTone, it really can’t be beaten. Samsung and some other manufacturers have brighter screens with oversaturation that can be eye-catching, but for day-to-day use, the colors aren’t ideal. The iPhone X’s screen is nearly perfect.
There has been a lot of misinformation posted about FaceID. When Apple announced it, they conceded that Twins may be able to access their counterpart’s devices and that children under 13 could, in rare instances, give it issues. Both of these scenarios have been tested and widely played out on YouTube. So if you have an evil twin or are one of the few whose children can fool your device, you may want to use a traditional pin number. Otherwise, FaceID is a huge step forward.
To be clear, I had no problem with TouchID. It worked as advertised, was blazingly fast, and had a low failure rate. But FaceID just feels like living in the future. If you pick up your phone, it works. If someone else does, it doesn’t. For me, it has worked nearly flawlessly in many different scenarios. I’ve worn sunglasses (polarized RayBans), hats, prescription glasses, and different hairstyles. I’ve been indoors and outdoors, in the dark, and in bright light. My son and father can’t unlock it with their faces. I’ve been completely impressed.
Another unfounded worry about FaceID by many is in regards to privacy. Let me be clear about this. Apple does NOT have access to the facial representation your phone uses. Apple also does NOT have any means to acquire access to it in the future. They built FaceID in a way that no one, not even them (or the FBI), can extract your facial representation. This was also true of TouchID. Privacy is not a concern when using FaceID. Read more about FaceID here.
As I stated earlier, the iPhone X is not perfect. Luckily, the faults are almost entirely software related (meaning they can up fixed or updated).
Control Center is now accessed by pulling down in the upper right-hand corner. This is a horrible placement for it. I honestly don’t know how this made it into the final release. I expect this will be improved in a future software update.
Portrait Mode has been added to the front camera. While not awful, it’s also not very good. Coupled with the new portrait lighting effects, it’s quite disappointing. Again, this can be improved with software updates.
I’m not a huge fan of the new multitasking interface. You access it by swiping up and holding your finger. You then have to press an app and hold it to start the process of closing it. I don’t have a better option in mind, but I’m hoping they will figure out a better way.
Not all third-party apps have been updated to display correctly on the iPhone X’s new screen size. They still work, but they’re framed by black bars on the top or bottom. This isn’t a huge deal as most apps have been updated, but it is annoying when you must use one that isn’t.
The iPhone X is the best iPhone ever made. Does that mean you should pay $1,000 for it? Well, if you paid over $900 for a plus model phone in the last couple of years, it isn’t that much more. If your plan allows you to get it for a subsidized price or trade it in later, you might want to consider those options. The iPhone 8 line is a great option as well. There is no “must-have” phone as they are all simply luxuries at this point.
Today is your first birthday. Wow, did that fly by. Sort of, that is. As they say, the nights crawl and the months fly.
I can barely picture what our life was like before your entrance. I don’t remember what it feels like to sleep through the night. I don’t remember what it feels like to have peace and quiet in the house. More importantly, I can’t remember how we lived without a perfect little bundle of joy, laughs, and the purest happiness.
I won’t lie and say everything has been easy. You haven’t perfected the art of sleep (during day or night). You have perfected; however, the art of exploding diapers. It’s impressive really. You can take some milk and a little snack and turn it into a weapon of mass destruction. For real though.
Over the past year, there are so many small things that stick out to me. Your first tooth. Your second tooth. Your third, fourth, fifth, and sixth teeth. Learning to sit up, crawl, and stand up. The audible “Mmmm” sounds you make anytime you taste ANYTHING. You, my boy, are NOT a picky eater these days.
If there is a book around, you want to read it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Dr. Seuss book or a Target catalog. I hope that continues for the rest of your life. Read, read, read. Let those books enhance your knowledge. It’s ok to read things that back your beliefs and values, but also read things that challenge you and make you think. Always keep learning.
You’ve already taught me so many things. Yes, some of those revolve around diapers, sleep, and feedings. But so many others concern my attitude and character. It’s both amazing and terrifying to realize that my emotions and reactions will help shape you as an individual. I hope I can continue learning to grow as your father. I hope you are proud to have me as an example in your life. I want to strive for perfection for you, but I also want you to see a man of integrity who learns from his mistakes. I want you to see a man who treats your mother with nothing but love and respect. And I want you to always know you can trust me to protect and encourage you.
I don’t know what the future holds for you, but I want it to be the future you want. Don’t let me pressure you to be an athlete, doctor, singer, programmer, engineer, or astronaut. But regardless of what your passions are, always know that I’ll be there for your practices, recitals, graduations, plays, performances, and everything in between.
You and your mother are my world. Maybe our family will continue to grow, but it will always be that — a family. We will always stand up for one another and we will always have each other’s backs. No one will ever be able to break us apart.
Most of all, trust in God and in yourself. Know that you’re capable of anything. Know that God is there for you through all things. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, but always try to learn from them.
Ask for forgiveness. Sit with the lonely kid. Fight for the little guy. Smile at the sad one. Make eye contact with everyone. Stand tall. Have a firm handshake. Laugh at yourself. Be generous. Make the world a better place.
I’m already so proud to call you my son. Watching your body and mind grow from day to day gives me such a feeling of happiness and accomplishment. I love you, Brigsby, more than you can possibly know. Go crush this thing called life.
Happy Birthday, buddy.
More and more kids are receiving iOS devices at younger ages either as gifts or hand-me-downs. As parents, it’s important to know how to restrict these devices to make them as safe as possible.
One of the most important things you can do as a parent is to protect your kids from strangers. This is difficult in the real world, but even more so online. Here are a few things you can do.
There is no 100% effective way to shelter our kids when they are online, but there are steps you can take to help the process.
With TouchID, Apple has already created obstacles for kids who have a tendency to buy apps, movies, etc. However, if you have a mischievous kid who might steal your thumbprint while you’re napping, there are some additional steps you can take. You can block them entirely, but I don’t recommend that because there might be a time when they actually need to make a purchase.
Family Sharing on iOS devices is perfect for this situation. Family Sharing allows a family of up to 5 to share purchased apps, purchased music, purchased books, purchased movies, and purchased tv shows (you only pay once, you all get it). It also gives you the option of sharing an iCloud storage plan allotment1 You can optionally have a shared photo album, a shared reminders list, and a shared calendar. You can get an Apple Music plan for your whole family. You can see each other’s location (optionally). But none of that is why you’re here, we’re talking safety after all.
When you enable Family Sharing, you can assign a role of either Parent or Child to each member. Parents have unrestricted access to change settings and make purchases. Children can’t change the settings of Family Sharing. As for purchases on the phone, if they click the Buy button, it will alert you on your device and allow you to approve or decline the transaction2. Perfect.
To enable family sharing, go to Settings and click your name at the top. Go to Family Sharing and set it up as you’d like.
If you’re giving or selling an old Apple device to someone, make sure you properly restore it (wipe it) to protect yourself and to provide convenience to the buyer/receiver.
Even if you trust the other party, do NOT give them a device without first wiping it. For the most part, it’s pretty simple.
The following directions are specific to iOS 11, although they are very similar to earlier versions. Step 2 is the only major difference.
The following directions are specific to watchOS 4, although they are very similar to earlier versions. These directions also assume that you have the iPhone that is paired with the Apple Watch.
There are multiple ways to do this, including using the Terminal. If that’s the route you wish to go, here’s a write up on how to do that. For the majority of people, I recommend the following. There might be very slight differences based on watch version of MacOS you are using.
Micro.blog is a relatively new service by Manton Reece that can be incredibly useful and convenient if used correctly. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume that you’re at least slightly familiar with it and have an account.
If you need more information, head on over to the micro.blog about page for an overview. Depending on when you’re reading this, you may need to request access if you haven’t already.
Beyond its basic, hosted functionality, micro.blog allows you to utilize other services such as WordPress to host and own your content. At its core, this isn’t very difficult to set up. I will walk you through that simple process first then detail some easy ways to optimize your setup.
Once you have both a WordPress and micro.blog account, you’ll need to download the micro.blog app for iOS (free). Currently, integrating with WordPress must be done through the app, although I believe more comprehensive support is coming for the website soon. In the app, go to Settings and choose “WordPress.” Using the information from your WordPress installation, login, choose a category1, and finish that out.
Next, go to micro.blog (the website) and add your WordPress RSS or JSON feed to the feeds page (find it under Account).
With that being complete, every time you post from the app, it will be posted to your WordPress site with the selected category AND pulled into your micro.blog account. If on micro.blog, you have set up a Twitter or Facebook integration as well, it will then crosspost to those. One beautiful thing about micro.blog is the way in which it perfectly customizes every crosspost based on length and content. It’s almost worry-free.
You’re done on the micro.blog side of things, now it’s time to dig into WordPress. Depending on your theme, you may have to make more (or less) customizations, but this should give you a good starting point.
For the purpose of this example, I’m assuming the category you created above is “microblog.” If it isn’t, simply change that word to your word of choice. First, you’ll need to edit your CSS. If you’re unfamiliar with doing this, you can easily edit it using the
Appearance > Customize menu option and choosing
Insert this code:
This will allow you to style your micro.blog posts to make them stand out from your long-form posts. You can use the following as a complete example.
border: 1px solid #d3d3d3;
margin: 3px 0;
You’ll have to make additional customizations based on your site and theme, but you should be off to a good start. If your site is attempting to display a non-existent title, you can hide it using CSS (easiest) or modify your theme’s files (best).
You may also want to add a permalink in some form to this new style. For this site, I use the date as the permalink (see example below).
If you need any help, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. I’ll do my best to help in any way I can.
The annual tradition of Apple’s fall announcements coupled with people questioning their ability to innovate is still in full force. With the recently announced iPhone X, iPhone 8/8+, AppleWatch Series 3, and AppleTV 4K, Apple is dominating the news cycle once again.
As always, most critics/pundits/reporters/fans are classified as either pro-Apple or anti-Apple. If you must classify me, I would fit in the pro-Apple (full disclosure) camp. However, I’m not above admitting that Apple isn’t perfect.
The main claim by many is that Apple has lost their edge and their ability to consistently release innovative products since Steve Jobs passed away. This shows a deep level of misunderstanding of technology and where innovation truly lies. Innovation is very rarely in how the device itself physically looks1. Innovation, more often than not, lies within the chipsets, the processors, the lenses, the batteries, etc.
Another misconception about innovation is that you must be first-to-market for it to be innovative, but that’s never been the case for Apple in its history. They famously copied the first personal computer from Xerox. There were mp3 players before the iPod. Touch screen devices existed before the iPhone. Fingerprint sensors were available before TouchID. Styluses were everywhere before they introduced the Apple Pencil. Bluetooth headphones were available and popular before AirPods existed. Apple has never been a first-to-market company, but rather a first-to-perfect company.
So when I see people waving their “Apple can’t innovate” banners across the internet followed by claims of who had what first, they’re easy to dismiss. No Apple fan is arguing that the iPhone X is the first to have facial recognition, wireless charging2, OLED displays3, etc. But our experience with the company gives us faith that they will do it better.
Innovation isn’t about the first. Innovation is about the first to get it right.
Lastly, there is a marriage between software and hardware that only Apple can create. They are literally the only company in existence that can create their own internals and pair it perfectly with their own software. If you want to talk about first-to-market AND innovative, this is where you look, and this is where Apple annihilates the competition. If you want to talk nerdy numbers, reach out on Twitter, but here’s a basic overview.
Inside the iPhone X is an A11 Bionic 6-Core CPU system-on-a-chip. It was created by Apple specifically for the iPhone. Other major manufacturers use chips created by Intel (and others) and modify them to work with their devices while also modifying software from yet another vendor (Google) to work alongside it. By creating their own system-on-a-chip, Apple can destroy the competition in device performance.
As a quick reference, the CURRENT MacBook Pro scores out at double the recently released Samsung Galaxy S8. The iPhone X? Well, it beats the MacBook Pro.
The thing about price. Yes, the phone is expensive if bought at full price ($999). But it’s not like they’re the only one with that price point. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is retailing for $960. It’s what you have to pay for the latest and greatest these days.
Two years ago, my city (Lafayette, LA) was subject to an act of terror. A man walked into a movie theater and opened fire, killing two young ladies. The other moviegoers and well-trained policeman were able to heroically diffuse the situation before there were more casualties.
As you might expect, my quaint little city (known as the happiest city in America) was in total shock. With a population of approximately 120,000 people, we didn’t consider ourselves a target for things such as this. The theater is one that almost everyone in the city has visited, included myself. I’m sure I’ve been in the exact room multiple times over the years.
Like most people in our area, I was appalled. I tried to channel those feelings, and how everyone else in this city felt by writing a brief letter entitled, “Dear Terror.” I posted it to Medium for some unknown reason and it became shockingly popular. It reached number 1 on Medium, was tweeted by Jonathan Lucroy (MLB baseball player from Lafayette), and began to gain traction amongst news outlets.
NBC News (the national version) reached out to me on Twitter and asked if I was interested in doing an interview for their website. While I considered this, other news outlets began to pick up on it and like to it. Our local news agencies posted it everywhere, international news outlets (as far as Australia) summarized and linked to it. It became wildly more popular than I could’ve ever imagined.
I decided to accept the NBC News offer for an interview and did it via email. Once they published the article, my little letter received tens of thousands of shares on social media1. A few people reached out to me to condemn my insensitivity towards the victims, but the vast majority of people thanked me for encapsulating an almost indescribable unity in our city.
I’ve written things in the past that have gotten large amounts of attention in the tech world, but never anything that was so widely (and quickly) recognized. It isn’t a great work of literature2 and had I spent more time on it, I feel it could’ve been better. It was a single draft written in ten minutes. It was from the heart and I meant every single word of it.
If you want to look back to that time, you can read it here.