And sometimes syncronous

Sometimes a call really does provide clarity. I’m used to working async and prefer it, but just today I had an example where a colleague and I were able to bust through something in a matter of minutes and didn’t have to spend days going back and forth async. It worked well because we don’t abuse it, most of the time we do work, but we know there are ties we can use Zoom to bump up the fidelity and solve a design issue quickly.

Followup on books I’ve already read

When I read a book (and yes, I count listening as reading), I have different mental spaces for different reading times. Sometimes I want to learn, sometimes I want to relax, and sometimes I want to feel a specific emotion. When I’m re-reading a good novel I want to return a place I remembered before and walk through that journey again. When I’m starting a new novel I’m looking for ways to attach to characters, learn the story, and overall just figure out what’s going. New takes more energy, but is often worth it to uncover gems I’d never expect. Old is tried and true, so I find myself often picking up books to re-read because the ones I go back for have passed the test of time. 

Either way, enjoy reading, and my biggest advice is to stop if you’re bored. Don’t force yourself through, instead pause and pick up another book. Yes, you’ll abandon some, but overall you’ll read far more than if you tried to force yourself through. 

Rhythms

First of all, I’ll never in my entire life be able to spell that word. Something inside of me refuses to get it right and I always Google the proper spelling. 

Ok, with that out of the way, I am coming to the end of this week with an appreciation for the rhythms of work and life. Often after a long and busy day I find myself needing a slightly quieter or calmer day after. If I have a day that things just fell apart and it was horrible, I’ve come to expect the next day is likely to be better. Reversion to the mean is a concept I think about often. If a day is absolutely fantastic I enjoy it for what it is, am thankful, and recognize the next day; taking in the averages of all my days; is unlikely to be as good. Imagine my surprise, then, when I have two great days in a row. I consider those a bonus.

This also works in the opposite way. On days where I have a horrible day, the next day is likely to be at least average. 

Returning to the comfortable

For years I always sought new books, craved the hit from hearing a new story, an unexpected twist, a character I’d fall in love with. Then, a few months ago, something broke in me and I realized the core components of what I enjoy in a good book already exist in the books I’ve read. This isn’t a revelation to most people, but to me it was. Even though I know the ending, I love the journey. And so I’ve gone back and started re-reading over a dozen books I read in the past. It’s so much fun! I realize there’s so many details I forgot and am able to lose myself in the stories again. Highly recommend it. 

Designer portfolios

Designers are such a wonderful group. They have so much emphathy, passion, care, and love for their craft. Often they’ve come to it because they were born with an itch to create, to breathe life into a thing, to see a vision come out of nothing. 

Over the years I’ve struggled with my designer portfolio; and to a person based on my own anecdotal evidence, all designers hate working on their portfolio. We take all the care and craft of what we do and try to apply it inwards; and suddenly everything falls apart. The portfolio is the perfect project, it seems. No constraints, unlimited possibility, a perfect place free from the whiles of others. Therein though, lies the siren call that will pull our ship toward the rocks. 

It’s possible to iterate on a portfolio forever. There’s no end, and it ultimately ends for me in madness every time I’ve tried. So, I stopped trying. I now tell a story as a hodgepodge of things I’ve done, focused entirely on the process of past work. It’s messy, it’s always evolving, and it doesn’t look pretty per say. However, it shows the blood, sweat, and digital ink, involved in creating a thing; and for the kinds of jobs I’m interested in, that’s often enough and leads into the work.

So, what do you do if you’re new, don’t have a ton of case studies to rely on, don’t have years of experience? First, take a deep breath. You’ve got this. You’re amazing. You are here because you care, and you are a creature of empathy for a reason. Be kind to yourself, treat yourself as well as you’d treat your child (or insert cat or dog if you’re such a person). 

My advice to a junior designer is to focus on telling a story. You can do that through a Loom video and walking through a recent project, you can drop in screenshots and text onto a webpage and talk through something, you can even create a PDF and share that. All these methods work, so long as you’re comfortable sharing the process you took to create something. That’s often enough for a junior. If you’re a senior designer things shift a bit, where you need to show results, failures, learnings, and understanding. But at a junior level when I’ve been helping with hiring I often just want to see if the person has a process, and if that process has led to at least two or three helpful projects that are worth sharing. 

Source of truth

One thing I’ve sought in my digital life, whether dealing with Calendars, tasks, or notes, is the importance of having a single source of truth. I don’t want to have two places to check things, where the data could conflict. When I go to add a calendar event I want to know it will be the same on another device. The same is true of a note, or a todo. Because I now use a watch, phone, tablet, and multiple laptops, it’s crucial that all of these be in sync to make sure I can trust them. Part of the reason I’m trying to go native on each app is I’m hoping the source of truth will become more trustworthy. We’ll see. 

Testing reminders

Todo lists, along with calendars, are a crucial part of how I manage my life. Over the years I’ve tried lists of all types. In my early twenties I decided digital was the answer, so I tried out every app I could find. None quite matched what I wanted. At one point I carried around a Field Note which acted as my second brain. It was always by my side, in most cases literally in a side pocket, along with a pencil. Then my toddler son grabbed it and chucked it into the bathroom sink. In an instant I saw days and weeks of my life fading alongside the smeared graphite. I went back to digital that very day. 

In my journey to find the right tool I tested Clear, Remember the Milk, early iterations of Apple Reminders, and every other app I could get my hands on. Omnifocus 3 caught my eye, and I dove into it headlong. I shared it religiously with colleagues and learned every part of it. It mostly worked for what I needed, and became a crucial part of organizing my life for a few years. Then Things 3 was announced and I switched over. The beautiful design won me away from Omnifocus. 

And so, since Things 3 was announced, I’ve been a fervent user. I tried switching from time to time, but stuck with it and built my life around it. That was 7 years ago. 

A great todo app requires a few things for me. I need a way to mark items as due on specific days, and each time I open the app it should be able to filter to just what’s due on that day, while also having an easy way to see what’s due on future days. Ideally this is designed in a simple way, I can easily move items between dates, and it doesn’t feel overwhelming. 

Beyond that core element I’ve come to count on subtasks, notes within tasks, repeating tasks, and a prominent widget on my iPhone homescreen.

Things 3 does all of that, and I’ve been very happy with it. 

However, in the last year or so I’ve been testing default software on device; and in the case of the devices I’m using, Apple’s builtin defaults. I switched from Chrome to Safari, moved from Google Calendar to Apple Calendar, and from Bear Notes to Apple Notes. 

Each time I’ve made the switch I looked at how I used the app, and whether I could make Apple’s equivalent software work the way I needed, or if I’d be willing to change my workflows to match Apple’s design. 

While Apple’s individual apps don’t count for all the use cases I might want, I’ve found they often cover just enough. There’s a lot of reasons why I’m trying this, and I may write on that in the future, but for now it’s an interesting experiment to see if I can use Apple’s apps, and whether the tradeoffs are worth it. Also I’ll be saving on subscription costs over time. On that note, I’m also testing 1Password to Apple Passwords, and will share more on that once I’ve figured it out. 

So, today, after talking to my friend Saadia the last few weeks about the great app migration, I decided to switch from Things to Apple Reminders. I started by moving over every todo item from now till Sunday, and checked them off on Things. That means Reminders is the single source of truth for now. I also put a task on Reminders for Sunday to either move the rest over, or switch back to Things. I’ve found with moves like this that I need to go all in for a period of time to see if it really works for me. 

Right off the bat it seems Reminders has every feature I need. The way I go about using those features is a bit different, and taking some getting used to. But I’m excited to see if it will work. 

Syncronous is hard, and that’s ok

For a while I thought something was wrong with me. I wanted to make myself available for meeting with people everytime someone asked. The world is full of so many kind, interesting, challenging, wonderful, frustrating, curious, loving, people. So I’ve tried, tried to always accomodate people who wanted to connect. Why wouldn’t I? People are amazing, the more time I spend with folks the better. 

Then I realized something. Connection, curiosity, creativity; these three things are the foundation of who I am. I love spending time with people, it fuelds me and feeds me, and I enjoy making an impact in the lives of others. However, I’m only truly me if I’m balanced out with the other two parts of the equation. If I spend all my time connecting with people, then I don’t have any time left to be be me, to explore the things I love, to live, to think, to create. 

So, if I hesitate to connect syncronously with someone it’s because I’m trying to weigh the balance of all three of those. It’s not perfect, and I’m still trying to figure out how to do it right, but too much of connection means not enough for the other parts that make me who I am. 

One trick that somewhat helps is to go asyncronus where possible. I love to record short videos on Loom and shoot them to someone; I enjoy using text, or audio messages. Even Marco Polo has its charms (despite the most infuriating of user experiences). Async is such a gift and I make use of it when I can as a default. I can add time to my week to reach out to people I care for in an async way, without having to plan it directly into the calendar. It’s such a joy and I use it as much as I can while trying to navigate how much syncronous time I have available. 

Apple Vision Pro first impressions

On Friday I got to try Apple Vision Pro for the first time. For the rest of this post I will simply refer to it as the Vision Pro, because that is how I’ve been saying it with friends for months. I’ll be talking more about this in an upcoming podcast, but I wanted to capture a few notes for now. 

First off, my experience was a bit clouded by what I suspect was the lack of a proper fitting.

I’ll be sharing the device with a colleague for work. We knew this was a risk, but few teams can justify the tremendous cost per user without knowing if this device will even work for what we need. As a result we ran into a logistical snag where I only had a few minutes to try it on and experience it. My colleague wears glasses, and the fit was customized for his face, so I’m guessing that may have been the genesis of my problems. During pre-order I ran the 3D scan and found we both had the same sizes of face shields and straps, so didn’t think we’d have an issue with fit. However, once the folks at Apple adjusted for his glasses they swaped out his face shield size. I’ve now debating whether I need to pick up a new face shield, but it’s too early to tell. 

When I first put on the goggles (I don’t know the best one word description to call this yet) the entire screen was blurry. It took me a moment to realize I had to push the goggles up on my face. Even then a slight blurriness persisted for the entire experience. I adjusted the single loop band as tight as it would go, but it didn’t help much. 

I hesitated to share this, wanting instead to start out with my excitement; but I think this is a crucial use case that is not being talked about. Most—in fact I’d venture 90%+—people will first experience the Vision Pro through a friend’s device. That’s how it works. You see someone has an iPhone and you ask to try it for a moment. Just yesterday I saw a friend using the Remarkable tablet. I asked if I could try it out to test the latency. I’ve been considering buying one for years, but never saw one in the wild. Now that I’ve tried it I know whether it will work for my use case.

That’s what’s going to happen with the Vision Pro. Someone will get one, and all their friends will try it. I’ve already had half a dozen friends ask if they can try the one I’ll be using. 

So, coming back to my first experience. The device hurt, I almost threw up after wearing it for 20 minutes; and it was blurry. I’m almost certain this is due to an improper fit. But I suspect this will be the first experience of most people. When I told my wife about the experience—even leaving out most of the negative—her immediate response was that VR goggles make her nauseous, so she’s not interested. 

This is a massive hurdle, and one that I’m nervous about personally. I’m feeling apprehension to trying the device a second time. My stomach turns even considering putting it on and feeling sick for an hour afterward. It feels like I did something wrong as a user, but I’d warrant this isn’t on me, it’s on the device to work well. 

With that massive caveat out of the way let’s dive into my early impressions. 

Bands 

I suspect I’ll be a dual band user. The single loop band hurts too much. Strapping what’s effectively the weight of an iPad Pro to the front of my face is a lot. This thing is just too heavy. 

Darkness and blurriness

I was surprised that I saw (or perceived) pixels in the experience. The entire room I was in felt darker than I expected and a little blurry. I don’t know if this is because of my poor setup, or how the device works itself. When I heard early reviews I expected everything to look like normal, but it looked like how my iPhone records a video of a room when the lighting is too low. You can see things, but it’s not as good as your eyes. 

Centering apps

Throughout the experience apps kept appearing off in a corner, not centered. At one point I got tired of trying to understand why so I just shifted my whole body to look at an app. I learned later how to move apps around, but having them pop up off center is odd. 

Dinosaurs

I’m looking forward to watching movies on this thing. The massive screen taking up the room in front of me was amazing. Just a few minutes with Historic Planet and I’m hooked. It felt real, felt like I was in the space with the dinosaurs; and it even felt a little scary. This is the best 3D experience I’ve ever had, and I want more. 

Navigating

Moving apps around, opening things up, looking, tapping my fingers together, this all worked better than I expected. In a matter of seconds I was doing these things without really thinking. The interaction felt like a solid version 1. With that said, the eye focus wasn’t as perfect as I was hoping. I sometimes was unsure if I was looking at the right area; again this could be due to the improper setup. But I’ll also add that having the perfect setup is a concern. You don’t have to worry about this with an iPad; you just had it to a friend and let them start taping. If the form factor is so finicky it may struggle to become useful to most people. 

Freeform

I had a moment of pure joy when I opened Freeform and started drawing with my hands. It was, of course, a bit gimmicky; I’m not going to spend hours moving my hands around in the air. But it has so much possibility as this is an app I use every day for work. 

Safari

Navgating the web was a bit slow, but extremely doable. I went to my blog and read a post. Things were a little blurry, but again I was unsure of the root cause. 

Two final initial observations. 

First, slight apprehensive nausea aside, I’m incredibly excited to use this device. I want to make sure I get a proper fit and then start using it for work, watching movies, really just tinkering. Then, that will hopefully lead into designing some apps for this experience. 

Second, I felt a little bit blue after taking the goggles off. The world felt a bit dim, a bit normal; it took a while for me to re-adjust. Granted, it was close to sunset in the Winter in the Pacific Northwest; always a bit dismal, but I’m worried that I didn’t want to leave the experience. 

Why we do this

I’ve been a fan of technology my whole life. As a kid I dreamt of watches that allowed me to take notes. I had a small hardware Bible that allowed me to search any verse or word. I tinkered with computers, played around with my operating system, installed everything I could think of. I just loved understanding how electronic things operated. 

Now, on the release day of Apple Vision Pro, I’m just as excited. I’ve seen the videos, read the reviews, listened to dozens of hours of podcasts, and my anticipation is unabated.

Sure, this device may not be everything I hope for; it may even fall on its face in some ways. However, I appreciate that something cool and curious and weird is coming out from a company I’ve admired for a long time. 

2024 iPad dreams

Last year saw a dirth of anything iPad related; unless you count a new pencil. 

I’m excited to see what Apple comes out with this year, and I’m hoping that we get a spec bumped iPad mini. That’s all I want. The mini form factor is perfect, I just need one that’s faster. 

After having tried every iPad iteration out there I’ve finally settled on this tiny amazing little device as the perfect iPad for me. I use it every day for work, sketching out ideas and treating it like a small notepad beside my desk. 

That, combined with a tiny hand strap, makes this feel like an extension of my hand. 

And with Freeform released over a year ago I now do all my early sketching and prototypes on it. All I want, then, is a faster iPad. If Apple releases that it will be an instant buy for me. 

Past its prime

I quit Amazon Prime last month after a decade plus paying member. I might be back, granted, but I finally reached the breaking point with the price increase and (if you want it) ads on Prime Video. Curious to see how the coming years determine which subscription services stick.

Açaí bowls

A few times per week I like to make açaí bowls for the kids. It’s one of their favorite meals, so I’ll share the simple recipe here if anyone is interested.

To serve two people:

1. Blend up 1 banana with 400g (4 packets) of Açai – Put the banana at the bottom of the blender and chop the açai into smaller chunks so it will blend together. I sometimes run it at low speed to get a smooth consitency. 

2. Pour the mix into two bowls and add into each: a spoonful of peanut butter, ½ cup of granola, 1 sliced banana, chocolate syrup, chia seeds, hemp hearts, fresh blueberries

That’s it! Just make sure to eat it right away as it won’t last. The açai blends best with straight banana, adding any liquid will make the consistency weird. You want a thick consistency that has to be scooped out of the blender. 

ChatGPT is Addie LaRue

I’m re-reading one of my favorite novels, a book that I still posit is too similar to the a favorite movie of mine to be a mere concidence. While listening to the audiobook I was struck by the character’s struggle. 

Mild spoilers ahead.

Adaline is cursed to a world that can’t remember her beyond the initial interaction she has. If she walks through a doorway they’ll forget her and she’s back to square one. 

The thing she longs for is a memory, a later, something beyond the here and now. 

In a way that’s like dealing with ChatGPT. You wish it would remember, that it would go beyond the now and hold the past in mind when asking it questions.

Simple posts

Maybe it’s the journey of each digital designer. We start out with drop shadows, bezels, fancy gradients and swirls, and explore the world around us. Eventually, if we keep at it long enough, many of us turn toward monochrome as the embodiment of all that is perfection.

Take this site, for instance. My ideas for it have morphed over the years, now it’s as simple as I can make it. Granted, not as simple as I can imagine, but I’m too lazy to keep pushing.

So, Daft Social caught my eye today and I love it. If that could by my blog I’d do it. 

For now I’ll admire it from afar and think about tweaking my theme some more.

Podcasts are personal

I just caught up on a bunch of my favorite podcasts today while going around the house cleaning. 

Podcasting has become one of my favorite methods of consuming information that I enjoy. That, along with listening to books on Audible, takes up a huge amount of my day. 

If I’m not talking to someone, I’m probably listening to Apple Music, a podcast, or Audible. My life, career, and personal interests have been shaped by the spoken word, and I love it. 

My podcast player of choice is Overcast, but if you’ve never use a podcast player before Apple or Google’s defaults are fine. 

Consuming the world through audio isn’t for everyone, some people prefer to consume video or text on a screen in longform or short form. All of those are fun for me, but pale in comparison to the joy I get from listening. If you’re new to podcasting, I’d like to recommend some of my favorites:

Accidental Tech Podcast

I’ve listened to this one for years, and rarely miss an episode. The dynamic of three friends talking about tech, and often waxing poetic on very random topics, is endearing and makes catching up on the news a lot of fun. I love Casey Liss as the narrator, walking us through the show, and sometimes playing the “normal” person on the team, someone who (at least when I started to listen) had to watch his budget, couldn’t buy every toy they talked about, and often didn’t have the deep knowledge one very topic; but knew enough to explain it to the rest of us. Pair that with Marco, his childhood friend, and person with enough money to buy every toy, along with his incredibly background as a developer and lover of technology, and it’s enough to pull me in every week for their dynamic.

However, the piece that pulls the whole thing together for me is the added element of Siracusa, the third member that completes the trifecta. John is the Eeyore to the Tigger and Pooh of the show, the one to really dive into things, almost always be right, and whose topic tangeants are never too long, even if they go on for a half hour. If you are feeling overwhelmed by this entire list, but have a passing interest in technology, I’d start with ATP. 

Also, I’ve been a member on and off, and the member specials are hilarious and worth paying for.

Bald Move

Whenever I’m into a popular new television show, such as The Last of Us, I’ll often check if Bald Move has a feed just for that show, and I’ll follow them for the length of the season. It’s two friends who love to geek out on movies and shows. 

Connected

Three friends who talk about tech. That’s the tagline. However, the reason I stay is because of the inside jokes, the cultural differences between an American, Italian, and Britain (British?), the game shows, and so much more. This pairs well with ATP above, and is a fantastic compliment each week. Even when both shows touch on the same topic, they do it in a different enough way that I find a lot of value. Also, I started listening to podcasts back with Myke on the Pen Addict. That, along with Leo Laporte’s Twit was my introduction to podcasts, and anything Myke’s done since has been so fun to follow. 

Downstream

I love everything Jason Snell does, and when he started a podcast to talk about the streaming players I knew I had to listen. It’s been such a joy to follow, and unexpectedly became related to my day job (a story for another day).

Do By Friday

I don’t know Merlin, so if he ever reads this I hope he won’t take offense, but I struggled to get “into” him as a podcaster for a while. All of the rabbit holes, inside jokes, strange sense of humor, and seeming disconnected story lines, made him hard to follow. However, between this show and Reconciliable Differences (shared below) I’ve come to love his style of storytelling and talking. I’ve followed long enough to track where he’s going with things, and really love the tangeants he takes.

That’s a LONG way of saying I really like this podcast now, and he and Alex Cox nail some incredibly important and touchy topics while having fun and navigating the human experience together. 

Hardcore History

Dan is a storyteller at heart. If we lived in a cave thousands of years in the past he’d be the one commissioned by the tribe to spin tales around the campfire at night. It doesn’t matter the topic, if Dan is going to dive in I’m ready to listen. 

If you enjoy hearing stories of history, and losing yourself in hours upon hours of content on specific stories and eras, then this podcast is for you. If you’re not sure what to start with I’d recommend the Wrath of the Khans or the Death Throes of the Republic. Both of them are older, so you’ll have to pay, but they’re worth every penny. If you’re not sure feel free to listen in on the more recent ones for free.

Dithering, Greatest Of All Talk, Sharp Tech, Stratechery

I’ve bundled these podcasts together because they’re all part of a bundle. You have to pay to listen to all of it (although some of it is free to listen), but with a single monthly membership you get everything. I love listening to each of these, whether it’s hearing Ben Thompson and John Gruber dive into the latest tech news, hearing Andrew Sharp and Ben Golliver talk basketball each week, hearing Ben Thompson and Andrew Sharp talk tech, or listening Ben Thompson’s daily updates in audio form. Because Ben has bundled these together I get it all for the same price, so I consume most of it, and even tried Sharp China for a while (I stopped because it felt too much like normal world news, which I’ve tried to avoid to reduce my stress). 

If I’d recommend ATP as the first podcast, I’d recommend the Stratechery Plus bundle if you’re interested in paying anything. I’ve found it’s helped me in my job as a product designer in the startup space, giving me a way to contextualize tech news from the lense of a fantastic analyst. 

The next four podcasts I’ll list are all part of a bundle from Ben Thompson. Also, Ben and I both worked at the same company; separated by almost a decade of course, but I’ll still count it!

Reconciliable Differences

This, along with Do by Friday, were what finally won me over to Merlin. He jumps into the show seemingly unprepared (except by 50+ years of life experience) and rambles on while John (from ATP) tries to keep him in line. It’s a perfect pairing of two fantastic hosts, and I love hearing any topic they go into.

The Talk Show

This is one of the hardest formats to pull off. While every other show has a two or three hosts to pair off each other, John (at least now, he had a co-host in the past) is the only host, and each episode he brings on a new or recurring guest to chat. It’s a format that could be boring, where each interview feels like the last. But John has a charm to him, he has the ability to make an interview not feel like an interview.

Now, granted, sometimes it means he does most of the talking and really dives into topics he loves, but it works well. One of my favorite guests is when Craig Hockenberry comes on and gives John a run for his money in terms of talking over John. It’s hilarious. This show does such a great job of spending hours on a topic or a theme and the guests just enjoy the time together. While I’d welcome being a guest on any of these fantastic podcasts, this would probably be the greatest fanboy moment for me to make it on the talk show. 

Under the Radar

This is one of the calmest podcast I listen to. It’s two indie iOS developrs who talk about the process and philosophy behind building businesses based on Apple’s ecosystem. It’s such a delight to hear their anecoddates, and David feels like a wise sage walking through the dos and don’ts of making a great app.

Upgrade

Two of my favorite hosts of other shows come together to talk about tech, what could be better? This is almost like a bonus show, since I regularly listen to content from each host on other podcasts. But I enjoy upgrade and usually catch each one.

Honorable mention – Rocket

I’m so dissapointed that Rocket has ended. I’m not sure why they stopped, but I loved listening to each episde as these fantastic hosts walked through the tech news. I’m hoping at least one or any of them will start up a new show soon. 

While this may seem like a long list, there are actually more podcasts I listen to. However, these are the ones (except for Bald Move, which is a special case) where I catch nearly every episode they come out with. 

One trick I’ve used over the years is to sometimes listen to a show at 1.5x or 2.5x speed. This is where Overcast does such a great job of handling the speed change. When I do speed up the shows it’s often to passively listen (like the radio of old) while working.

If you’ve gotten this far I’d like to also recommend my own podcasts. One is a tech podcast, inspired heavily by ATP, Connected, and Under the Radar, and the other is a topical podcast; focused on remote work culture and working in tech in general. I am also working on a few other podcast ideas, including one shaped more like The Talk Show (I love the idea of different conversations each week with different people) but don’t have anything to announce yet. 

Making an app

I love the short form video that the folks behind Halide put together. They’re working on an app, and sharing the process behind that app. Their exploration of their process feels real, feels natural, and doesn’t seem to be screaming for me to give them attention. It’s just a few folks sharing about something they love. That’s what I aspire to. Great job!

Improving my audio for Zoom calls

 

I co-host a few podcasts with friends, so I’ve been trying to figure out how to make my voice sound better over Zoom and in audio in general. I’m still learning, so I welcome any feedback on this. 

For anyone curious, here’s my setup so far. 

For my microphone I use a Yeti mic. They’re average quality, and really cheap to get started. There are many other mics that are better (and I have some of them), but for simplicity I’d just grab a Yeti to start out. 

If that’s all you do you’ll be golden and sound quality will shoot through the roof compared to using your laptop’s built in mic or even the mics on most headphones. 

———

If you’re looking for ways to improve audio quality even further read on.

Buy a pop filter. It smoothes out your harsh vowel sounds (like the letter P). It’s super easy to install, just slide it over the top of the Yeti. 

Get a desk boom arm. The stand that comes with the yeti sucks. It’s too short and it picks up the vibrations of typing on the computer. I’ve used Yeti’s branded one for years and it’s good enough to start out with. If you have a little more cash to spend my friend and podcast co-host loves a different brand, and it seems a bit better in quality.

Get a shock mount. The best microphone stand comes from the floor or ceiling, but isn’t practical in a lot of home office setups. Mounting your boom to the desk is fine, if you have a shock mount. They’re cheap and worth getting. 

If you’re on a computer with USB-C you’ll also want to make sure you have a USB-A to USB-C adapter since Yeti doesn’t support USB-C yet. 

—— — 

For using the Yeti always make sure the Yeti blue logo is facing straight toward your mouth. Don’t speak into the top of the microphone, but rather toward the blue logo. It should be roughly six inches from your mouth. I keep mine just a bit below my chin so it doesn’t cover my face on video calls. 

If you get Yeti’s boom arm, you’ll want to place it behind the desk facing toward you. 

That’s it! You’ll sound amazing. I personally turn the gain all the way down, and speak right into the mic. That seems to work the best for sound so it doesn’t pick up background noise as much. I also use the cardioid pattern (the little heart icon) since it’s just me using the mic and I’m not sharing with someone else in the same room.

Also, I make sure to plug my laptop into ethernet instead of wireless. It’s made a big difference with sound quality.

I’ve been considering a Ring doorbell for a while. Our house currently has no doorbell. We ripped it out during a renovation and never installed a new one.

A few weeks ago I bought one as a Black Friday special. But I just couldn’t bring myself to set it up. I finally opted for something more low tech. On Amazon I found a sound only doorbell. Kind of a novel idea at this point, but so far I’m loving it. Easy to setup and no worries of a third-party camera tracking our family’s movements.