If you can’t tell: I love this camera, and that’s really not a surprise. What will be more telling is whether I will be happy with it as my only camera for an extended period of time. If so I don’t plan on getting another camera for quite sometime.
The Wirecutter recently published a nice piece on standing desk best-practices. For the most part I enjoyed the article and thought it contained some valuable insights. I’d like to underscore a few key points:
To determine your ideal height for your monitor and keyboard, stand up straight and bend your elbows so that your forearms are parallel to the ground. Wherever your hands are, that’s the ideal height for your keyboard. And whatever is at eye level, that is your ideal monitor level. Create your desk around those dimensions.
It’s a little simplistic, but for the most part this will work. Standing hunched over is hardly better than sitting hunched over. Your monitor should definitely be eye level—looking straight ahead. Forearms at a right angle is a start, though I’d take it a step forward and force you to keep your elbows close to your ribcage instead of out in front of your body. Ultimately, this setup might place you a bit closer to your desk than you’re comfortable with, but it’s a tad more ideal.
Set up your desk near something that you can lean on from time to time, which will help you shift your weight around.
Yep. Standing versus sitting doesn’t have be quite such a dichotomy; leaning is a fantastic way to rest from prolonged standing without reverting to full-flexion in a chair. In our apartment, we use bar stools.
Get comfy shoes or, even better, go barefoot. If it’s not going to freak anyone out, go ahead and take off your shoes. But if you need footwear, keep a comfy pair of flats at the office that you can change into for standing.
This is correct, but backwards. Barefoot is always the best way to stand. If barefoot isn’t possible, then “flat” is the next keyword, not necessarily “comfy.” Converse and Vans are two brands that come to mind—look for no heel. If you’re a woman, standing in high heels at your standing desk is counterproductive.
Get a standing mat. They are pretty cheap and can make a huge difference in your comfort throughout the day, especially when you start standing for extended stretches of time.
I’m still not sold on the usefulness of standing mats. It’s easy to see why comfortability should be prioritized, but in reality, it doesn’t need to be; after all, your standing desk exists for better health. If going barefoot for long periods of time is uncomfortable, your goal should be to train that, not eliminate the discomfort with a mat. Put bluntly: if you can’t use your standing desk without a mat for support, you’re a wimp.
Of course, there are a couple of tips that The Wirecutter failed to mention that I am notoriously strict about. First, you have to stand (and walk, and do everything) with your feet straight. It will save your life. If you’re a duck-footed walker, fix that yesterday. Second (I know it’s awkward and we like to make jokes about it) you have to keep your butt squeezed and abs on—about 20% of “full throttle.” This serves to prevent excess lordosis and is the final forgotten step in good posture.
You may know that it’s early 2015 and I’m still rocking a mid-2010 MacBook Pro. It’s the longest I’ve ever owned a computer and, to be honest, I wouldn’t recommend it. I was eagerly awaiting Apple’s event last week, anticipating some badass MacBook updates. I was a little disappointed.
For me, the archetypal MacBook Pro is the ideal machine—a perfect mixture of power and portability—and with that in mind, I’m not especially drawn to the new MacBook. For one, the scarcity of ports (an intentional design decision meant to force portability on the user) means this computer is not likely to be used in a desktop-style setting. And indeed, the machine is so thin that its working innards are relatively weak by necessity; RAM tops out at a disappointing 8 GB, and the processing power is slower than even the baseline MacBook Air.
All of this might seem like a distraction in the direction of metric-chasing; no one needs crazy fast processing power, graphics, and RAM, right?
But on that same note, no one needs 13.1 mm thin computers either. The pursuit of portability has to eventually reach a point of diminishing returns—this notebook can only get so thin before I just don’t need that anymore. The thinner and lighter notebooks get, the less space there is for working parts, and more space needs to be filled with extra battery to make the damn thing usable. The same phenomenon is happening with the iPhone. I’ve long said: I’ll gladly take something that’s 5 mm thicker and equal parts faster and with longer battery life.
As Gabe said in his article “Considering MacBooks”:
I think Apple continues to draw a heavy line between adolescent and adult computing. The MacBook line is for college students and the MacBook Pro line is for people that make a living with their computers.
I myself am a college student, but am also an “adult computer” user—I want power, speed, and possibilities. Last week’s updates to the MacBook Pro line were indeed “modest”, if not “half-assed.” I’m not eager to upgrade my computer given Apple’s latest advancements. Their focus on portability and other silly features (Force Touch?) have neglected the other spectrum of MacBook power users who want massive speed and battery. (I’m not even talking about the Thunderbolt vs. USB-C fiasco. Make up your minds, for our sake.)
If, for every innovation in portability, Apple made an equal and opposite innovation in portable power, I’d be sold on a top-of-the-line MacBook Pro. But that just doesn’t seem to be the direction Apple is interested in going, and I’m not enthused about that.
Today Google released the much-anticipated Google Calendar app for iPhone (yep, no iPad support yet.) It’s free on the App Store and is worth a look, but I won’t be using it.
I had a lot of fun using Inbox, Google’s recent Gmail app, until Outlook for iOS stole my heart. Point being: Google has been cranking out some quality producitivty apps for iOS, and I’ve grown fond of their material design look and pleasant combination of power user features and simplicity.
However, there are a few key features preventing me from using Google Calendar for longer than five minutes. For one, and this is probably an issue for very few people, I’ve grown to rely on using the app icon badge to display the current date, something which Fantastical does fantastically. (Hah!) Second, there’s no landscape support to be found, which, on the iPhone 6 Plus, is a huge lost opportunity. Finally—the biggest problem of all—the app’s damn name is so long that is displays as “Google Cal…” on the homescreen, which is absolutely hideous. Unusably hideous.
I had high hopes for this app, but it just doesn’t pack the necessary features (or looks) to draw me away from my beloved Fantastical.
I’d like to begin a series of blog posts that attempt to catalog the nootropics I have tried or plan on trying, the reasoning and mechanisms behind them, and to help distill the heinously complicated workings behind them to you, the lovely reader. I originally set out to write one massive article, but that grew too cumbersome. Instead, we’ll start with baby steps.
We colloquially refer to nootropics as “smart drugs.” These can be any and all compounds, natural or not, safe or not, which enherently, through their own mechanisms or cascading effects, can enchance performance. This is, after all, the ultimate goal. My own interest in these stemmed from an ever-increasing workload in life: work, school, this blog, my physical fitness pursuits, and the rest. The demand grew too great, the supply too low; a fix was needed.
Since I am playing the long game—that is, finding the perfect balance between performance and longevity—I will automatically dismiss compounds found to be dangerous in and of themselves. For instance, Modafinil and related substances, popularized by Dave Asprey, excel in ameliorating the symptoms of narcolepsy and, as a result, can be used and abused for ridiculously-productive all-nighters. However, sleep is perhaps one of the most potent and natural nootropics on the planet, so Modafinil is out. Sleep, however, is in, and so is any supplement that might enhance sleep quality. Someone like me, neurotic, detail-oriented, and compelled to optimize, will go all out here. Others, like my poor girlfriend, don’t have to. Indeed, across the Internet, the word “nootropic” has become associated with strange and sketchy white powders and illicit substances—one might be reminded of the film Limitless. This is simply not the case: a nootropic is not a magic performance pill, but any edge is still an edge.
Of course, all of this should be taken as it is: an n(1) experiment. A single-subject experimental design. Anecdote. I, being myself, research to no end, and believe that I understand the intricate mechanisms, safety, and effective doses of all of these things. But ultimately if it doesn’t work for you, then it doesn’t work.
Over the next few weeks, I’d like to roll out more articles which lay out my personal regimen and strategies in more detail. I’ll likely start with the basics and move more complex from there; after all, much of what we consider nootropic could also be considered a basic deficient vitamin or mineral (Vitamin D, for example) or something like a simple lifestyle change (diet, exercise, sitting less.) It doesn’t have to be alienating. We should all be pursuing excellence.
In the end, I’ll likely compile this information into a standalone page which can act as a reference guide to anyone interested (there might be a couple of you.)