Goodbye Pocket, Hello Instapaper!

apps-pocket-iconAlways looking for interesting online content (and a place to capture it) I’ve been using the Pocket application since 2012.  I even upgraded to the Premium version for around $5 a month which gives you some nice auto-tagging, searching, and archive functions.

I was actually preparing to return to the free version of Pocket because I wasn’t using the advanced features as much as I thought I would.  I save the articles I want to keep long-term in Evernote so the archiving features were not a benefit.  I’m still trying to adopt the whole tagging concept too so that was another feature that was wasted on me (I’m a Folder organizer, always have been)…

instapaper-logoThen Instapaper decided to eliminate the cost of their Premium services… (Whoah, game changer right?)…

Well I had to at least try it out.  I’ve seen the Instapaper icon as a “save for later” option all over the Internet for a while now.

I’ll have to admit I’m pretty impressed with how Instapaper works.  It does a MUCH better job saving articles in their original format than Pocket did and it beats Evernote hands down with inline videos and graphics.

Other features include “Speed Reading” where each word flashes on the screen at a speed you select.  It’s a little awkward at first and causes me to read out loud, for some reason, but it does what it’s supposed to.

Another option I just discovered allows you to tilt your phone to auto-scroll the article you’re reading.  The more you tilt the faster the scrolling rate.  It takes a little bit to get used to but works great when you’re sitting in your favorite chair relaxing.

If you’re a fan of offline archiving/reading of online content you should really check out Instapaper.  You can even import your Pocket library into Instapaper and not miss a beat.  It’s a really solid product and you can’t beat the price!

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below…

What We’re Reading in August

Circle_4-704x528Found an interesting website earlier this month called Historic
Indianapolis
.  I think I ended up there after a post on the Facebook Group Indianapolis Long Ago, which I’m a member (lurking more than contributing).  Lot’s of fun facts about the great city of Indianapolis at both locations.  I’ve really got the bug to get out of the suburbs and give “city life” a try in Downtown Indianapolis.  Not sure I’d make it there more than a few years without wanting to get back to the Urban Sprawl but it would be a fun experiment.

Really nice travel article in the NY Times called From Montreal to Minnesota, by Inland Sea by Porter Fox.  He spent 6 days on a cargo ship crossing the Great Lakes and checking out the sights along the way.  Evidently this is a totally legit trip and cargo ships offer this in limited quantities.  Probably going to be booked for a while after this article gets circulated.

Keeping on the maritime theme this morning the NY Times wrote about the only floating Zip Code in the US.  It’s a mail boat that meets up with cargo ships, like the ones in the previously mentioned article, and delivers mail, packages and supplies.  Sounds like a great summer job for someone a lot younger than me.

hostess-deep-fried-twinkiesFinally, in the food department, Hostess is rolling out Deep Fried Twinkies in a Walmart frozen food aisle near you.  Preliminary reviews have actually been positive piquing my interest just enough to maybe try in the near future.

Have a great week out there & like it or not Fall will be here Thursday, September 22.  Get those outdoor activities planned!

What We’re Reading/Watching/Buying in December

It’s been a busy month and Christmas is less than a week away (so is a much-needed week off work for yours truly).  As I get older the years just keep speeding up & I don’t know of any way to slow them down!  It’s just the opposite feeling from when I was a kid where the years dripped slower than that bear bottle full of honey.

The Great Cord Cutting Project of 2015 is going better than I could have ever expected & there’s no going back.  I’m spending some of that old evening TV time trying to keep up on the articles I’m always collecting via Pocket.  Some items recently clipped include:

pcq8qzR9iThe Kindle is getting a workout too with several books being read in parallel.  Just depends on what I’m in the mood for.  Stephen King’s 11/22/63 and Andy Weir’s The Martian are both fighting for my attention.
I’ve also taken the opportunity to really dig into what’s available on the streaming services I subscribe to, particularly Netflix and Amazon:

  • The Man in the High Castle (Amazon) is an alternate history story that has the Germans and Japanese wining WWII and taking control of the USA.  It’s a pretty dramatic series that’s full of twists and turns.
  • Narcos (Netflix) depicts the story of Pablo Escobar and the DEA agents assigned with bringing him to justice.  I’m not going to lie, you have to pay attention to this show.  Mainly because it’s 90% Spanish with subtitles.  And a Gringo like me needs them.  No Sprecken la Espanola

belkin-be-F5L171tt-1I’ve been helping keep USPS, FedEx and UPS in business with lots of holiday purchases for friends and family.  Along with those items I picked up a new Keyboard/Case for myself and my iPad Air 2.  The Belkin Qode Ultimate Pro is a great replacement to the Logitech keyboard cover I was using with the last iPad.  It’s a little pricy $150 but It’s currently on sale now for $130.  I’m working on a review but let’s just say that after a few days using it I’m a fan.

25475-inset13After a glowing review from a co-worker I also ordered the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Electric Sandwich Maker.  Seriously, I did!  I’ve see this gadget before but didn’t think it would be any good, especially costing under $30.  Well I’m told this thing really works so I had to see for myself.  When I happen to eat breakfast the egg and cheese (with various meats) is my regular go to.  Delivery is scheduled for Monday so we’ll see how it goes Tuesday morning when I fire that baby up and make my first sausage, egg and cheese muffin.

No matter your religious preference (or not) I hope everyone is gearing up for a fun holiday season with friends and family.  If you get any good tech gadgets or kitchen toys let me know!  I’m always looking for ways to give Amazon more money.

What We’re Reading This Week (Nov. 22, 2015)

reading20It’s about an hour before kickoff of the Colts vs. Atlanta game and time for another installment of what we’re reading this week.

  • Yesterday TV Chef Mario Batali came to town for a book signing at the recently opened Market District in Carmel. Liz Biro at the Indy Star had the chance to speak with him and ask a series of great questions from her readers.
  • A NY Times journalist made the trip to Cuba to try and snag a box of hand-rolled smokes from the source and wrote an interesting piece on what it’s like to visit.  Cuba is on my bucket list & I want to make it there before it gets commercialized.
  • The anti-encryption debate heats up in the days after the Paris attacks.  It doesn’t help that ISIS claims to be using Apple’s iMessage for communication.  Wired has a piece on the state of Operational Security (OPSEC) and what the recently released guide being used by ISIS could mean for all of our privacy going forward.
  • And finally this week Medium has a Long Form article about a depressed photographer and his 40,000km trip around the world that took an amazing 4 years to complete…  On a bicycle!  Great images in this one.

That’s it for now.  Fingers crossed that Matt Hasselbeck can pull off a win this week!

What We’re Reading This Week (Oct. 31, 2015)

I love to read and I find myself tagging a lot of online articles to read later.  My first method (a long time ago) involved copying links and creating bookmarks.  After that I progressed to using the Reading List option in Safari.  After that I tried sending everything to Evernote.  That worked for a while but I found it created too many issues when I was searching for other reference items.

Enter the App called “Pocket” (which I blogged about back in 2012).  It still  does one thing and it does it very well.  It allows you to aggregate online content, tag it for the corresponding categories, and save it for later.

If you sign up for Pocket Premium ($4.99 a month) it keeps articles forever in a digital archive even if the originating page gets removed.  You also get access to some nice search and indexing features.  I’ve found this useful as many of my old saved articles are no longer available online.

Here are some of my favorite articles from the past week:

I’ll try to post some of my favorites on an ongoing basis.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

 

 

Specifications and How the World Works

While working on one of several projects today I found myself pouring through a set of specifications that was nothing short of mind boggling. These were specifications used to construct buildings and they covered everything from light fixtures to door knobs to acoustic tiles (and data distribution).

This got me thinking about where we would be without this kind of structure.  When you have several industries and trades all working together to design and build a finished product everyone must be on the same page.  You can’t connect glass to wood or steel, run electrical cable anywhere you want, or put a stairway randomly within a structure.  All of this takes coordination and guidance.  That guidance almost always comes from specifications (and experience no know what can, and should not, be done).  My job in this particular project is a lot easier than others.  Some people have to worry about Life Safety and others have to make the structure visually appealing.  I just have to get all the bits and bytes flowing throughout the building in the most efficient, and cost-effective, way possible.

I could just wing it and use the tried and true ‘path of least resistance’ but experience tells me this is not the best solution.  I have to navigate my connections around huge open spaces, stay away from electrical interference and, most of all, keep everything out of sight.  All connections must end up in a central area but still reach the farthest corners of the structure.  After all, just about, everything is “connected” these days.

In addition to the “hard-wired” cabling I need to account for wireless connectivity throughout the environment.  Radio waves have a tendency to act like they’re not supposed to.  In theory everything is line of sight and spreads out in a spherical pattern.  In reality signals will bounce off the strangest objects and end up providing less than desirable results.

This is the kind of project I can really sink my teeth into.  It has all the elements I enjoy and many challenges to go along with them.  As I pour through the paperwork that I’ll eventually need to manipulate into a document instructing others how to create my vision, I can’t help but think about how this can even be accomplished without the structure and limitations that a good set of “specs” can provide.