The books I read in 2013

January 05, 2014

Below is a list of the books I managed to get through in 2013, and below that, is another list of the books I’m currently reading.

Apart from the usual mix of science, technology, psychology and evolution, last year I was obsessed with the JFK assassination and ~early 20th-century notables.

★★★★★

★★★★☆

★★★☆☆

★★☆☆☆

Currently, I’m reading the following books:

Is there a cure for alcohol hangovers?#

A great piece from The New Yorker. My trick? Water whenever I can remember to drink it, Advil just before passing out heading to bed and lots of Gatorade as soon as I come to wake up.

This American Life follows a car dealership for a month#

We spend a month at a Jeep dealership on Long Island as they try to make their monthly sales goal: 129 cars. If they make it, they’ll get a huge bonus from the manufacturer, possibly as high as $85,000 — enough to put them in the black for the month. If they don’t make it, it’ll be the second month in a row. So they pull out all the stops. Photo gallery here.

One of the best episodes from probably the best show of its kind. Just great. I learned a ton.

Just Delete Me#

Many companies use dark pattern techniques to make it difficult to find how to delete your account. JustDelete.me aims to be a directory of urls to enable you to easily delete your account from web services.

Tweet Library#

Tweet Library keeps a local searchable archive of your own tweets, favorites, and retweets so that you can find important tweets later. It adds collections so that you can curate your timeline by organizing related tweets together. And it includes custom filters to automatically group or hide tweets.

I’ve known about this app for a number of years, but really never paid it much mind because Twitter’s API constraints meant it couldn’t reach further back in your timeline than your last 3200 tweets. A few days ago I came across it again (in my buddy Federico Viticci’s list of must-have iPhone apps for 2013), and the fact that it was now available for the iPhone (instead of just the iPad) was enough to pique my interest.

I was hoping it would now support the importing of the tweet archives Twitter made available at the end of 2012 , and sure enough…it does! It’s as simple as putting the archive file in a particular Dropbox folder, after which the app imports your tweets and from then on out you’re up to date (the app will download your latest tweets each time you open it, so you’re always synced up).

I do all of my Twitter’ing from the iPhone, and so having on my phone a searchable archive of everything I’ve ever tweeted is pretty awesome. (I used to use Tweet Nest for this sort of thing (and loved it), but since it requires its own MySQL DB, and I’m now using Jekyll+Amazon S3 for this site, it just wasn’t an option anymore.)

The Cubli: A cube that can jump up, balance, and "walk”#

The Cubli is a 15 × 15 × 15 cm cube that can jump up and balance on its corner. Reaction wheels mounted on three faces of the cube rotate at high angular velocities and then brake suddenly, causing the Cubli to jump up. Once the Cubli has almost reached the corner stand up position, controlled motor torques are applied to make it balance on its corner. In addition to balancing, the motor torques can also be used to achieve a controlled fall such that the Cubli can be commanded to fall in any arbitrary direction. Combining these three abilities – jumping up, balancing, and controlled falling – the Cubli is able to ‘walk’.

Just watch it.

For 25 years a single couple generated MLB's schedule#

Major league baseball’s schedule affects the lives of millions of Americans. For 25 years, the masterminds behind the massive undertaking were The Stephensons. A husband and wife duo working with a computer, a pencil and a great deal of cooperation.

I couldn’t care less about baseball generally, or Major League Baseball in particular, but I find this sort of thing fascinating.

The new Glif smartphone stand is adjustable#

I bought the original Glif in 2010, and have just ordered this updated version that can be modified to handle devices of varying size.

The Glif will work with practically any smartphone, with or without a case. Use the included hex key to fit the Glif to your phone. Once sized to your phone, you won’t need to make any additional adjustments. The Glif will fit devices between 58.4–86.4mm wide and 3.1–12.7mm thick.

The first version was an awesome little gadget, and so I’m definitely looking forward to using this new model with my iPhone 5s, and maybe even my iPad mini.

The Girl in the Closet#

Rivers chatted away as she followed Atkinson down a hallway into the master bedroom. He scooted over a basket overflowing with clothes, took a few hangers off the doorknob and swung open the closet door.

“Hi, Lauren,” he said.

Rivers fell silent. She wasn’t sure if the creature huddling at her feet was human.

For whatever reason, I’ve always been drawn to these stories of unimaginable abuse (and survival), and this one may very well be the most heart wrenching I’ve ever read. It seemed that each “chapter” introduced something worse and more unbelievable than the last.

As you read through this piece, I encourage you to view all of the galleries and watch all of the videos along the way. You might also want to read just a chapter or two at a time and then step away for a bit, lest you become overwhelmed with emotion. It’s a tough, but essential read—I promise you’ll get something out of it.

Hang in there, Lauren—you’re an inspiration to humanity.

The best cocktail I've ever had

October 16, 2013

UPDATE: A few weeks after I posted this, the Four Seasons Vancouver reached out to me on Twitter with a link to the recipe!

A few weeks ago we took a short trip to Vancouver, BC. It was a “vacation”, which meant I took two full days off of work plus a weekend! We had heard about the great drinks at YEW Bar, inside the Four Seasons, and ended up going there before dinner the first night we were in the city.

I saw “Lemon Meringue” on the cocktail list and just knew I had to try it.

Long story short, I tried it a few times. In fact, I had seven of them in three trips to that bar over the course of our short stay. It was, without question, the best cocktail I’ve ever had. It was so good that I forgave (after an embarrassingly long inspection, of course) the fact that on our last trip there, just before heading to the airport, the waitress spilled ceviche “juice” all over my Sony RX1, which was sitting on the table. (Not for nothing, but the staff couldn’t have been more apologetic, and I got the feeling that had it been damaged at all, they would have replaced it.)

Anyway, the point of this post is for you guys, my infinitely knowledgable readers, to estimate the appropriate ratios of this alcoholic elixir’s ingredients, which are as follows:

  • Citrus vodka
  • Vanilla liqueur
  • Lemon
  • Coconut (I almost didn’t order the drink because of this ingredient, but fortunately, I really couldn’t taste it)
  • Egg whites
  • Cinnamon (sprinkled on top of the finished drink)

I need to learn how to make this at home. Please don’t fail me. You guys are the best! Thanks. ;)


On a completely unrelated note, we had some insanely good food while in Vancouver, but far and away our favorite meal was at the Blue Water Cafe. It was phenomenal from start to finish, and we can’t wait to go back. (I fell in love with a drink here too; they called it “Jacob’s Ladder”, and it was made with ginger-infused Beefeater gin, fresh basil, cucumber lime juice, orgeat and a splash of chartreuse. Deelish.)

Joe Smith: How to use a paper towel#

I thought for sure that I had linked to this a year and a half ago when it was first making the rounds, but it seems I didn’t. Anyway, while the video is a bit silly, I guarantee it will forever change the way you dry your hands—it’s a simple, but very effective little trick.

Volume Scroll#

A simple little app that lets you control OS X system volume by scrolling anywhere in the menubar. (Neat, but we all know the best way to control system volume is with a PowerMate.)

(Via Brett Terpstra.)

Lumo#

The easiest way to show off your best photos. Free. No ads. No clutter.

For whatever reason I’m kind of into this. No comments, followers, or “likes” or “favorites” or any other metric—just your photos on display (and with the “Pro” account you can use a custom domain).