American Democracy Is Doomed

American democracy is doomed – Vox:

To understand the looming crisis in American politics, it’s useful to think about Germany, Japan, Italy, and Austria. These are countries that were defeated by American military forces during the Second World War and given constitutions written by local leaders operating in close collaboration with occupation authorities. It’s striking that even though the US Constitution is treated as a sacred text in America’s political culture, we did not push any of these countries to adopt our basic framework of government.

This wasn’t an oversight.

I recommend reading this entire article. It was written pre-Trump, and it’s hard to look at now and think that anything in the last two years hasn’t made this seem more right than when it was published.

2018 Reading Challenge

This year I read a bit less than the year before, at only about twenty books or so. For 2018 I’d like to get on a more consistent reading schedule, and so I’m aiming for fifty. That’s a little less than one a week. I’d also like to work more fiction in and not just read about politics, buddhism, and computers. Don’t know if I’ll do it, but that’s my goal.

Micro.blog Now Available for Everyone

As of today, anyone can sign up for Manton Reece’s fabulous Micro.blog with a code or having been a Kickstarter backer. I’ve been using the service for the last several months, and it’s become a great community. I love how it’s able to pull in content from different sources via RSS and present it all in one timeline. If you want to follow me there, I’m @collin.

A Great Qi Charging Stand for $20

I’ve been using this charging stand1 with my iPhone X for about three weeks, and I couldn’t recommend it more highly. It actually looks nice. One of the things I didn’t like about the other options was they tended to have a lot of ugly branding on them. It’s also exactly the right angle for Face ID, and isn’t picky about how you place your phone on it. Oh, and it’s only $20.

Great present to yourself or someone else.

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  1. The actual product name is: Fast Wireless Charger, Yolike 2 Coils Wireless Charger Wood Grain A8 for iPhone 8/8 Plus, iPhone X, Fast Wireless Charging for Samsung Note8 S8 S8+ S7 S7 Edge S6 Edge+ Note5. So catchy. 

Investing in Skills

I’m pretty comfortable on the command line. I can move about, issue commands, edit my profile, pipe things around, all that. However — and I’m probably supposed to admit this with a little shame — I’ve never really learned how to write shell scripts. Usually I’d write a Python script, a small command line app, or hack something together with Automator. It did the same job, but not being able to write a bash script from scratch felt like kind of a blind spot.

I decided to work on that.

In order to get from the can-competently-get-by level to the can-do-magic level I started reading a book on the topic, and set aside a few others I want to follow it up with. It’s been kind of a blast so far. I already knew how to program, and I can use command line tools well, so this has sort of been like taking two things I already knew and putting them together. made things a lot easier than if I were starting from zero. Even after just a couple days, I was able to put together little scripts to do useful things. It’s neat.

Recently I read the book So Good They Cant Ignore You by Cal Newport. If you haven’t read it: you should. It’s fantastic. The big idea is that “follow your passion” is actually terrible career advice. Most people don’t know what they’re passionate about before they start, and only find that passion later once they’ve developed skills in an area. According to the book, the better advice is to focus on doing the best work you can in a field with potential for growth, and the passion will come later.

Another thing he mentions in the book is how most people get good enough at whatever they’re doing, and then kind of stop learning. What that means though, is that if you you actually take even a little time to purposefully practice and improve your skills, you’ll blow past most people who don’t bother. Filling in some of the blanks in my developer skill set feels like a good investment.

Use SF Mono Outside of Terminal and Xcode

I really like the SF Mono font Apple includes in Sierra and High Sierra (even more than Menlo), but for some reason it’s only available inside of Terminal and Xcode. So I’m out of luck when I’m writing in MarsEdit, BBEdit, or any other third party app. Fortunately, you can just copy the font from Terminal’s app bundle and install it so it’s available everywhere.

Run this command from the Terminal and you’re all set:

cp -R /Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app/Contents/Resources/Fonts/. /Library/Fonts/

You could also ⌘-G in Finder and copy the files over that way if you prefer.

I Bought a $60 Smart Water Bottle and It’s Sort of Cool

As of yesterday I believe I have hit peak millennial. It happened when I received my Hidrate Spark 2.0 smart water bottle in the mail. I wanted to start drinking more water, so I’d been using an app to track how much I drink for a few days. The app was fine, but it was easy to forget to do it every time I drank something and kind of a pain. The bottle tracks everything I put in it, syncs over bluetooth, and then saves it using HealthKit. So far it seems to work pretty well.

If you have an extra $60 and want to drink more water, it’s not the worst thing you could do.

Life Update

Astute readers/listeners/friends may have noticed that I haven’t published a new blog post or put up a podcast episode in the last couple months. And, there are reasons for that. I’ve been meaning to get everything going again, but life has managed to get in the way, so I thought I’d post a quick update.

First off, I am no longer living in San Francisco. I moved from San Francisco to Seattle in September to work for Sonos. It’s been a great fit. I love the people I’m working with, the products we make are super cool, and I’m really excited for the future for the future of the company. I’ve always been a big audio nerd, and have loved speakers, microphones and all of that. There aren’t a ton of opportunities as an iOS developer to work at a company that bridges both of those things, so this has felt like a great fit.

As for my podcast, I recorded an episode right before I left which I need to edit and put up. I’ll be booking more guests going forward and will try to get back on a regular weekly schedule. It’s a lot of work to manage, but I love doing it. I let life get in the way more than I should have, but I’m going to try to fix that.

Anyway, that’s me.

Podcasting Gear (July 2017)

I’ve switched about my gear quite a bit since I started podcasting, and I think things sound pretty good. I thought I would go ahead and share what I’m using, what I like about my current setup, and what I might change in the future.

Microphone: Heil PR-40

The mic that I’m currently using, and that I’ve used on most episodes of The Run Loop is a Heil PR-40. I like the sound of it pretty well, although sometimes think it might be a little too hyped sounding. The thing I really like about it how much rejection it has for anything that’s not in front of it. Considering I’m recording in a small downstairs apartment with loud upstairs neighbors, that’s pretty essential.

I was using a Shure SM7b for a couple episodes but didn’t like it so much because it picked up a lot of room sound and the very low output made it a bit challenging to deal with, even with nice preamps.

On the episode with Bob, I used an Electro-Voice N/D767a for his voice, and on the latest episode with Michele Titolo I used a Shure SM58. They both seemed about as good but I’d probably give the edge to the Shure.

Headphones: Sony MDR7506

Although the hyped high end makes these a little weird to use if you were going to try to mix on them, I love the Sony MDR7506 for tracking. I have less trouble with bleed getting into the mic than I did with the Sennheiser HD 380 PRO, and they don’t need anything special to drive them. That’s pretty much what I’m looking for in tracking headphones. As a bonus they also look extremely cool.

Audio Interface: Focusrite Clarett 4Pre

I traded my Apogee Duet 2 for this, and for the most part it’s a great upgrade. Comparable sound, 4x as many inputs, and way better software. Plus it actually has knobs. The Duet had one knob that you needed to click to change what it did.

The only thing I don’t like about the Clarett as much is that the built in preamps have less gain available at 57dB vs the Duet’s 75dB. It’s totally sufficient for most things though; the Duet just had more headroom.

I would absolutely recommend the Clarett to anyone looking for an interface in this general price range. The value it gives for the cost is just nuts. Really pleased with it.

Preamp: API 512c

At $900 a channel, plus requiring a $650 box to put it in, I can’t really recommend this unless you have a lot of money and want something truly professional, or plan on recording music as well. For podcasting, the built in preamps in a decent interface are going to be great, but I already had this, so why not use it?

Software (DAW): Logic Pro X

I used Pro Tools way back in the past, but I’ve been on Logic for many years now. I have custom presets saved for most things and muscle memory for the key commands. I really like this app and I’m pretty good with it.

Other Gear

Wrapping Up

If I make any significant changes I’ll try to post what they are and why I switched. Right now I think my gear is pretty sufficient though and I’m going to try to focus on just making great episodes with what I’ve got for a while.