Police in Iceland are having way more fun than you on Instagram →

April 08, 2015 |

Messy Nessy:

I didn’t even know police forces having instagram accounts was a thing, but apparently it is. The NYPD even has time for one. But no one gets it quite like the official Instagram account of the Reykjavík metropolitan police. From silly selfless, posing with adorable kittens to re-enacting their own scenes from Baywatch and using all the right hashtags, the charming coppers of Iceland’s capital have accumulated more than 144K instagram followers– that’s even more than the total population of Reykjavík (around 118k).

Kind of puts a few things in perspective, doesn’t it?

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Studio Neat introduces Highball →

April 08, 2015 |

Super-cool new iPhone app for collecting and sharing cocktail recipes:

Additionally, we wanted to create an easy way to share recipes. When you stumble upon something tasty, the inclination is to share it. There were many paths we could have gone down in regards to sharing, but we took the simple one, with a twist. When you share a recipe, the app generates an image of a “recipe card,” which is super easy to share on Twitter or iMessage or email or whatever. The image is 16x9, orientated in portrait, so it is designed to look great on mobile.

Having been designed by Studio Neat, Highball is not only clever and useful, it’s gorgeous to look at, too. And don’t miss the accompanying Sandwich video.

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Picking the right bag for a trip: a simple set of rules

April 07, 2015

Today I read a great article by Ben Brooks, on which type of bag to take for a short trip:

After this recent trip, the answer became pretty clear: backpacks are always the way to go.

Even with the short duration and carry times I did during this trip, a shoulder bag was supremely annoying. It was in my way, noticeable, and uncomfortable even after a short while carrying it. So even though the bag was physically smaller than my GR1, it felt much larger than the GR1. This is a simple matter of how shoulder bags hang and pull at our body.

Agreed. Backpacks are almost always the most comfortable and convenient bags to carry, and they’re always my default choice.

In his piece, Ben also called upon readers to share their own criteria for choosing the right bag for a trip, so here are my two cents on the matter.

General rules

My personal rules for choosing a bag are fairly simple. As a general rule, I will only carry one bag with me, with the possible exception of a small camera bag or a small daypack tucked inside the main bag. For the vast majority of trips though, I’m a one-bag kind of guy.

Also, the bag must be carry-on compatible. I will never check my bag in voluntarily, and the only way I’ll agree to having it checked in is if I’m required to do so by the cabin crew. Unfortunately this can happen sometimes, like when they run out of storage space in the overhead lockers, so always keep a security lock in your bag, just in case.

There are plenty of good reasons never to check in your bag, but that’s a story for another day. For now, suffice it to say that if you can, you should always carry your bag with you on the plane. And don’t make excuses, there’s no real reason to carry more stuff for a trip other than laziness. If I made it for 24 days in Australia and 23 days in Brazil with a single carry-on bag, so can you.

Additionally, there’s one final, very important rule: Under no circumstances will I ever pack more than one week’s worth of clothing and gear.1 For those trips that are longer, I will simply choose to do laundry at my destination once every seven days, however expensive or inconvenient that may be.

In practice though, it’s never really expensive or inconvenient, since many hotels and hostels around the world offer that service or at the very least, facilities you can use. For the few that don’t, you will need to look around town for a self service laundry, or go to a specialized place where you can have it done for you. For example, I paid $25 in Brazil — twice — to have all my clothes cleaned and ironed overnight. That may sound like a lot but I assure you, it was money well spent.

Doing laundry on the go seems like an annoying errand you don’t want to be doing while away on a trip, but the advantages it offers are nothing to sneeze at and the inconveniences are really not that bad. At best, you’ll find plenty of places that will take care of everything for you. At worst, it’ll take a couple hours of your time once a week, it will be expensive, or both. Either way, it definitely beats having to carry a mix of clean and dirty clothes in your backpack for three weeks in tropical weather. Trust me.

Bag choices and recommendations

Once the general rules are set and when it comes to which bag to carry, it all hinges on the duration of the trip and the expected weather conditions. These are my bags of choice for each situation:

  • Two or fewer days in warm weather: The GORUCK GR Echo. If you can pack light, this bag is just the right size for short escapades. I use it all the time when I go to my hometown to visit my folks for the weekend, and I love it. I typically carry a couple spare shirts, underwear, my laptop with charger, a dopp kit and maybe my Kindle for these trips. Anything else and you’re not really packing light anymore.

  • Three to five days in warm weather, or up to four days in colder conditions: a 25-liter backpack. I personally use an all-black Nike Hayward 25M backpack, which I’ve owned for over a decade. I wasn’t expecting much of it in terms of performance, particularly given its rather modest price tag — I seem to remember paying something like $70 for it when I bought it all those years ago. Surprisingly though, this bag far and away exceeded all my expectations. Sadly, this particular model was discontinued by Nike and the current one is a lot less to my liking, so when the time finally comes to upgrade my bag I will probably buy a GORUCK GR1 instead.

  • Six or more days in good weather, five or more days in colder conditions: The GORUCK GR2. I wouldn’t pick any other bag over the GR2 for a serious trip, with just one caveat: big backpacks are heavy, and the GR2 is no exception. If you foresee the need to walk a lot, you may want to opt for a different type of bag, like a rolling suitcase, for example. Yes, they’re less convenient and maybe even less fancy, but your back will thank you for it. And another thing: carrying a backpack makes your back sweat. A lot. There’s simply no way around it, so be prepared and keep a spare shirt handy in case you need to change during your trip, or upon reaching your destination. Hugging your welcoming hosts with a sweaty back is just bad etiquette.

  • Cycling trips: The Ortlieb Back Roller City panniers. Depending on the duration of the trip, I will take one or both panniers with me. These are incredibly durable and completely waterproof, so there’s no need to worry when you’re pedaling your way across a river — although, if you do find yourself in that situation, you may want to stop and think hard about your travel choices. Just saying.

That pretty much covers every type of trip I usually take. These rules are very easy to follow and remove any uncertainty about what to pack and how to pack it. They have served me well in the past but of course, your mileage may vary.

In any case, these are flexible rules and nothing is set in stone. For example, if a short trip requires more formal clothing I will probably choose to go with a bigger bag. The key is to play with them a little bit, make them work for you and your particular trip, and find the right balance.

Finally and above all, remember that with packing, as with many things in life, practice makes perfect. So if you really want to get better at it, you’re just going to have to keep traveling.

  1. As a side benefit, this also helps with the no checked baggage rule above.

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The Sweet Setup’s favorite podcast client for iOS →

April 07, 2015 |

Speaking of Marco, my friends over at The Sweet Setup have chosen Overcast as their new favorite podcast client for iOS, and I agree. Overcast is a terrific app, I use it every single day and I love it. Absolutely recommended.

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An iPhone 6 owner lives with the iPhone 6 Plus →

April 07, 2015 |

Marco Arment has been recently toying with the idea of switching from his current iPhone 6 to the uber-sized iPhone 6 Plus. He took it with him on a couple of trips to the British Isles, and this is what he thought about it:

Having used an iPhone 6 full-time from its launch until these 6 Plus experiments over the last few weeks, I can confidently say that neither phone is extremely well-designed. Both have nontrivial and completely avoidable flaws. But the 6 Plus has bigger advantages over the other phones, while the 6 seems to sit in a mediocre middle ground.

CGP Grey summarized the difference well in the aforelinked Hello Internet episode: “I am more and more convinced that the iPhone 6 is the phone for nobody; it’s the in-between phone that has all of the disadvantages of both [the 5S and 6 Plus]”.

It’s an interesting thought. I can definitely see the iPhone 6 as the odd man out, especially given that it’s already too big for my taste so in that regard, it doesn’t really hold a size advantage over the 6 Plus for me. I’m still happily using my iPhone 5S which size-wise, is pretty spot on for my needs but funnily enough, had I decided to upgrade to one of the two new iPhones, it probably would have been the 6 Plus. I mean, if you’re going big, you might as well go all the way and get the extra benefits that come with it, like the better camera and the awesome battery life.

But Marco is not the only one wondering about the 6 Plus. Stephen Hackett has also decided to switch after using the regular 6 for a few months, so it seems this perception is somewhat common, at least inside the tech circle.

For what it’s worth, and after trying the 6 Plus for two weeks, Jason Snell seems to disagree:

People with large hands (or who rely less on one-handed operation) might have a very different experience, but for me it was just too big a device, with not enough functional gain elsewhere. I’m back to the iPhone 6 now and not missing the big guy at all. I don’t disapprove of people who prefer the 6 Plus to the 6—and I know a bunch of my colleagues are definitely rethinking their choices—but I’m afraid I won’t be joining the club.

I have to say I’m leaning more towards Marco’s side on this one, but not by much. I honestly don’t like the idea of carrying a monstrously big phone in my pocket, which is why I decided to stick with my 5S for another year. Who knows, maybe the next generation will go back to featuring a 4-inch model and we’ll have three different sizes to choose from. If so, the smaller one is definitely where I’d feel most at home.

However, if we’re stuck with just the two bigger phones for the foreseeable future, any one of those will be a compromise in my book in terms of size. That said, camera performance is something I’ve come to value extremely highly in my years as an iPhone user and if the camera differences between both models continue to exist, the Plus will still offer a tiny bit more, which will probably be enough to win me over.

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Welcome to our design studio, where you’ll never see the light of day but you can bring your dog →

April 07, 2015 |

Kimberly Harrington:

If you’re thinking tweets, keep them upbeat and clever. But whatever you do, don’t start an “OH at the studio” account. Because what’s overheard is, quite frankly, a lot of bitching. A lot of pom-pom hat wearing four eyes complaining about how this isn’t “what they fucking signed up for.” My motto is “On Instagram they can’t hear you scream.” Unless you post videos. Don’t ever post videos.

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‘Female Voices’, by Matt Gemmell →

April 06, 2015 |

Matt Gemmell:

I invite you to bring some balance back to your perception of the world around you, and to push past the historically male-centric gathering of voices. I started by simply following more women on Twitter, and making a conscious effort to amplify those women when the opportunity arose. The list of people I follow now has more female faces than male, and I can’t adequately tell you how much of a relief that is. You should find out for yourself, and maybe use that list as a starting point.

I love this idea. We really need to hear more female voices on the Internet, and it all starts with the people we actively choose to follow.

By the way, if you still haven’t subscribed to Matt’s weekly email newsletter, I don’t even know what to tell you. He’s downright killing it week in, week out.

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