First "vlog" post

I am a late comer to the vlog sensation that is Casey Neistat, and my kids have come to revere him as some type of new media mogul. They love the videos he makes, and I can understand why. He is a very good filmmaker. In addition, I have recently been binging on Geoff Marshall's YouTube channel devoted to the train and urban transit of the United Kingdom and London. Even people I listen to on podcasts are making vlogs.

So, today, I started.

Esther says: "I think we can make Nitro Cold Brew in an ISI", so we test it.

Listening to podcasts - 3 apps

I have been a voracious podcast listener since This Week In Tech first premiered in 2005(!). Podcasting has exploded into a beautiful ecosystem of daily and weekly podcasts and long form serialized stories told in a weekly increments. I love all of it.

When I first started listening to podcasts on the iPhone, I listened in Downcast, I dabbled with Instacast (RIP), I’ve tried PocketCasts. Eventually, I settled on Overcast. Overcast is a great podcast player, but I had a hard time managing the combination of daily and weekly episodes as well as the long form season at a time podcasts. I’m sure this could be managed with better smart playlists, but I needed a fresh start.

I switched to Castro. I love Castro’s inbox metaphor. I find it works really well managing the flow of daily and weekly podcasts. Unfortunately, the inbox metaphor doesn’t work well for grouping a whole season of episodes, so I am continuing to use Overcast for the serialized, long form shows, think S-Town, Serial, or The Butterfly Effect.

The funny thing about listening to a lot of podcasts is that I find myself recommending podcasts to a lot of people. Because of this, the people in my life start listening to podcasts. My wife is now a podcast listener, and my kids are becoming podcast listeners too. There are some wonderful kid focused podcasts including Wow in the World, Brains On!, and Story Pirates. These are shows we listen to together and we can talk about their content. It is always funny to have a child tell you about something they heard in a podcast when the topic is in a context that is appropriate to them. We have had plenty of good conversations about capsicum after a Wow in the World about what makes spicy things spicy.

Listening to these podcasts together is fun, but can be hard to manage with two adults and two kids who has listened to what episode, how far in were we the last time we listened. In addition, if we want to listen in the kitchen and dining room on a Saturday morning while we are making pancakes, it isn’t exactly conducive to have a podcast playing from a phone’s speakers. We have a great Sonos speaker setup, but until Sonos supports AirPlay 2, I have been at a loss for how to leverage my fancy speaker system.

Enter PocketCasts.

PocketCasts, which is a fine podcast app in itself, works with Sonos speakers. We have few Sonos speakers in the house and being able to play the kid friendly podcasts over them is perfect. In addition, there are podcasts that my wife and I can listen to together and it is no big deal if the kids wander in on them.

Three podcasts apps to support all of my listening: Castro for me, Overcast for long form content, PocketCasts for kid and house friendly listening. If I had to make due with just one, I would pick Overcast. For now I will continue with this experiment of three podcast players.

Icarus

Another documentary in my documentary kick that was captivating is Icarus. I started watching this thinking I was watching one movie, but then, like a very good documentary, it took a turn into a story that was far more interesting than the first one.

The timing of me watching this was also very interesting. Let’s say, a movie that I thought was about doping on the Tour de France joined up with the news that Russia will not be allowed to compete in the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Sour Grapes

I have been on a documentary kick recently. Maybe it is a push back against some reality TV that has been on in the house. Maybe it is because there seem to be more filtering into my Netflix recommendations and other media streams. I have always wanted to understand wine better. To better understand the flavors that people get from the wine, to understand what grapes go into making what wines from what part of the world, to understand why it can cost so much.

A documentary that snuck up on me was Sour Grapes. An incredibly well crafted documentary directed by Reuben Atlas and Jerry Rothwell weaves a complex tale that did not end up where I thought it would. To invoke the CGP Grey spoiler policy, I will not say anything more, but highly recommend giving it a watch, whether you like wine or not.

Leaving Medium

A little over a year ago, I switched my site to Medium. I read Marius Maslar and Drew Coffman and understood that Medium was a platform that focused on writing and exposing that writing to others. And while I think that is still true, I find Medium's changes to be at odds with that ethos.

If Medium is focused on having people read what is written, why do they adorn their web versions with John Gruber coined "dickbars"? The mobile reading experience has become very hostile, forcing readers to become users. This sounds more like Silicon Valley venture-funded thinking than the mission of a company focused on connecting writers and readers. It is focusing on "user engagement" instead of being a platform for writing.

I have switched away from Medium. Why? Because of the reader-hostile nature of their changes, for a company that is focused on writing and reading. Because of the company’s ridiculous release notes on their iOS app. Because of the company's need to change things just for change’s sake. Because of their lack of an explicit business model.

I have switched to Squarespace. Not because it is the most popular blogging platform. Plenty of people have complained about that. Not because it has the best API support. Because it has a business model that makes sense. And I am in control of my content without having to do a lot of work to keep the platform that I write on up to date. No patching, minimal security risks. It is in line with the belief that when working in IT, I don't need to use all of my IT knowledge on personal or home projects. Sometimes simpler is better.