Top Brew #69: Flavor Molecules

It’s estimated that cold brew is now a $2 billion business in the United States. With that in mind, we took a little more time to discuss it. I’ve noticed that I’m actually taking a liking to it, and it could potentially solve some of the issues we’ve raised in past episodes.

Techtonic 56: Bringing the Power of Applescript to Mortals

In this week’s episode, Joshua is joined by our special guest, David Sparks, to discuss macOS and iOS automation using the apps Hazel and Workflow.

Since this was WWDC week and I was at the beach with my family, we recorded this episode a week in advance. And, as it turns out, I came down with the flu and allergy problems before we recorded, so Joshua took over things.

The WWDC announcements for macOS and iOS are exciting, but Apple didn’t offer new automation solutions. Going forward, apps like Hazel and Workflow are still very relevant. If you want to take a deep dive into them, check out Sparks’ field guides, some of the best.

Speed to watchOS Can’t Get Here Fast Enough

Recently on Techtonic, I said that the main improvement I wanted to see in watchOS 3 was speed enhancement. Today, Apple promised they’ll deliver.

My concern has been that everyone with an Apple Watch has said it’s sluggish. watchOS 2 feels very much like a state-of-the-art operating system for 2010, and that’s a problem. We don’t have a good reason to wait on our watches when we can perform the same actions 10x faster with any other device.

If you walk into an Apple Store today and test drive a watch on display, it will run much faster than the watch on your wrist. The disparity is so noticeable to me that I’m surprised others haven’t complained. I think it’s unintentionally hypocritical that their model on the retail floor is obviously superior to the watch they’ll sell you.

With watchOS 3, I’m hopeful that the speed I always wanted is finally arriving for my first generation watch, not just Watch 2 hardware at some later date.

Joe Darnell

Joe is a UI and graphic designer with prior experience as the creative director for three media-based businesses. Joe’s passionate about web design and graphic design with about 15 years of experience in the media industry. Additionally, Joe is the host of the Top Brew and Techtonic podasts, both featured on iTunes.

The Best Wallpaper of OS X

Mac OS X has always offered enchanting background images. I’ve been very fond of Apple’s blue arches, northern lights, galaxies and mountain terrains.

One of the newest stands out from the rest. It’s available in System Preferences, named El Capitan 2. It’s of Yosemite National Park at night, revealing an array of starry night lights above the mountain peaks.

Drop camera, walk away.

This, I contend, is the most faithful photographic representation of OS X’s default wallpaper themes wrapped into one. It features lots of blue (which reflects the early Aqua themed wallpapers of Tiger, Jaguar and the like), starry skies and nature all in one.

Aqua Blue for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger

Leopard Aurora for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard

Andromeda for Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

El Capitan for OS X 10.11 El Capitan

512 Pixels shared this excellent walk down memory lane. I had all of them at one point.

Joe Darnell

Joe is a UI and graphic designer with prior experience as the creative director for three media-based businesses. Joe’s passionate about web design and graphic design with about 15 years of experience in the media industry. Additionally, Joe is the host of the Top Brew and Techtonic podasts, both featured on iTunes.

Techtonic 55: ‘Apple, Save My Marriage’

This week on the tech show, Joshua and I are joined by our special guest, Sean Doran, eager to discuss our wish lists for iOS, macOS and watchOS. WWDC is just around the corner, so you never know. Some Apple developer might be listening and crank out all the new stuff we have in mind. We can dream.

RWT 100th Episode Special: Why We Are All Here

A couple days ago, my friends at ‘Reel World Theology’ released episode #100. It’s a pleasure to podcast with Fizz and the gang, when the occasion arrises. I can be heard on a review for Cinderella (2015) and Unbroken (2014) in their archive.

Around 02:20:00(!) into this episode, you’ll hear me. Other than that part, it’s really good. Some down-to-earth people come together and share film insights and passions.

I give Fizz a hard time about how good ‘Reel World Theology’ is, because I like it so much and I don’t want him to know. Check out a review in the archive for a movie you like, and give the show a listen.

Top Brew 66: Syringe for Elephants

On Friday’s episode of the coffee show, Eric and I report on my recent trip to Counter Culture Coffee of Atlanta. It was great to meet Ben Helfen, slurp and spit some Ethiopian, and meet a handful of coffee enthusiasts that appreciate the craft.

Also in this episode, we discuss our experiences with friends, family, and coworkers that have been influenced by our coffee standards. It’s not like we want to become craft coffee apologists, but we kind of already are.

My thanks to Magic Coffee Truck for sponsoring Top Brew. Get made-from-scratch coffee toffee, choco-dipped coffeemallows, and more one-of-a-kind edibles! Use discount code MAGICTOME20 to get 20% off your purchase. I recommend you try the cold brew(s).

Have a great Memorial Day! ☕️

4 Ways to Turn Customer Empathy into a USP

Good advice from my coffee friend, Sharon Turner, of Magic Coffee Truck. She’s thought of ‘four ways you can bring customer service empathy to the forefront of your business model’:

  1. Create a Coffee Community
  2. Serve Local, But Don’t Forget Vanilla
  3. Consider Customer Suggestions
  4. Share Your Vision

Read her article at Perfectly Daily Grind.

/Source

Joe Darnell

Joe is a UI and graphic designer with prior experience as the creative director for three media-based businesses. Joe’s passionate about web design and graphic design with about 15 years of experience in the media industry. Additionally, Joe is the host of the Top Brew and Techtonic podasts, both featured on iTunes.

On Criticism, Cynicism & Sharpening Your Gut Instinct

Time and time again, creative people are given two pieces of advice: (1) Listen to your critics and seek feedback, but also (2) Ignore your critics and follow your intuition. Clearly, there’s a powerful contradiction here in need of reconciliation.

The article has great advice for anyone wrestling with feedback.

Techtonic 54: Redesign All the Things

This week on Techtonic, with our special guest, Lee Peterson, I discussed potential changes to Apple Music in iOS 10. Then, since we were already talking about interfaces, we review Instagram’s app refresh.

I think that Apple Music still shows promise. I use it regularly for reasons we highlight in the show. This said, I’m greatly annoyed that the music in iTunes on my iMac, MacBook and iPhone don’t match. I don’t know why the libraries don’t match. Sigh

On the flip side, the changes to Instagram are more than welcome. Instagram’s app icon changes how we feel about it, but what you’ll find inside is the app we know and love in black-and-white. The enhancements to Search and Explore are handy.

What if it had no ports?

A great amount of contention surrounds the MacBook’s one port. Technically, there are two if you include the headphone jack, which is about one more than I think Apple wanted to include. The problem for users, however, is that there isn’t the same number of ports on the state-of-the-art MacBook as there are on the tried-and-true MacBook Air.

More is better, right? Many want what they know and love about their computer of yesteryear with the feel of a sleek minimalistic aluminum body of today. The MacBook Air doesn’t cut the mustard in 2016. We want something thinner that’s just as powerful for everyday use. The MacBook Air’s ports give it a definite advantage over the MacBook One (that’s what some of us like to call it).

Let’s ask ourselves what does Apple want to do with the MacBook? As it concerns the one USB-C port, they have this to say on the product’s page:

As long as we were including a port for charging your MacBook, we wanted to make sure it was the most advanced and versatile one available. The USB-C port puts just about everything you need in a port all in one place. This amazing port provides charging, speedy USB 3 data transfer, and video output in a reversible design that’s one-third the size of a USB 3 port, giving you the flexibility to easily connect your favorite devices.

I can hear Eddy Cue saying that paragraph from the stage of an Apple keynote. The important quotation to note here is “As long as we were including a port for charging your MacBook.” Think about that.

I own and use a MacBook every day. In fact, it’s my primary Mac. If I have the choice between a MacBook or my iMac or iPad, I’ll probably go with the MacBook. I like most characteristics about it.

The port is an issue for me from time to time. I’ve often wondered why I have technical issues with it working with external display. I also wonder (at times) how I’m going to get two USB microphones connected to my MacBook. In the end, I always find a way to make it work. Even if it’s not what I would originally have in mind, I make it work. I’ve not had to compromise on more than how I would make a feature work. In the end, everything works, somehow. (I feel the need to stress that last point before I hit on my real point for this post.)

I have a theory. I think Apple knew that they couldn’t get away with no ports, so they included one. The MacBook needs at least one port for charging. Since this is the case, they went ahead and gave this port other features, like support for USB-C and external displays. If it weren’t for the necessity of powering and charging the MacBook with this singular port, Apple would not have given the MacBook a port at all.

Does this bother you? The notion would probably bother most of us, but it’s ultimately what I believe we can expect from Apple. The day will come that Jony Ive will want no ports and find a way to make this work for one of his devices. When that day comes, many people will hate that Mac more than they ever hated the MacBook One.A great amount of contention surrounds the MacBook’s one port. Well, technically there are two if you include the headphone’s jack, which is about one more than I think Apple wanted to include. The problem for users, however, is that there isn’t the same number of ports on the state-of-the-art MacBook as there are on the tried-and-true MacBook Air.

More is better, right? Many want what they know and love about their computer with the feel of a sleek minimalistic aluminum body. The MacBook Air doesn’t cu the mustard anymore. We want something thin as well as powerful for everyday use, and the MacBook Air’s ports give it a definite advantage over the MacBook One (as some of us like to call it).

Let’s ask ourselves what does Apple want to do with the MacBook? As it concerns the one USB-C port, they have this to say on the product’s page:

As long as we were including a port for charging your MacBook, we wanted to make sure it was the most advanced and versatile one available. The USB-C port puts just about everything you need in a port all in one place. This amazing port provides charging, speedy USB 3 data transfer, and video output in a reversible design that’s one-third the size of a USB 3 port, giving you the flexibility to easily connect your favorite devices.

I own and use a MacBook every day. In fact, it’s my primary Mac. If I have the choice between a MacBook or my iMac or iPad, I’ll probably go with the MacBook. I like most characteristics about it.

But the port is an issue for me from time to time. I’ve often wondered why I have technical issues with it and my external display, or how I’m going to get two USB microphones connected to my MacBook. In the end, I always find a way to make it work, even if it’s not what I would originally have in mind, I make it work. I’ve not had to compromise on more than how I would make a feature work. In the end, everything works, somehow. (Just have to make that point before I hit on my real point for this post.)

I have a theory. I think Apple knew that they couldn’t get away with no ports, so they included one. The MacBooks needed at least one port for charging. Since this is the case, they went ahead and gave this port other features, like support for USB-C and external displays. But if it weren’t for the necessity of powering and charging the MacBook with this singular port, I think Apple would not have given the MacBook a port at all.

Does this bother you? The notion would probably bother most people, but it’s ultimately what I think we can expect of some future Mac. The day will come that Jony Ive will want no ports and find a way to make this work for one of his devices. When that day comes, many people will hate that Mac more than they ever hated the MacBook One.

Joe Darnell

Joe is a UI and graphic designer with prior experience as the creative director for three media-based businesses. Joe’s passionate about web design and graphic design with about 15 years of experience in the media industry. Additionally, Joe is the host of the Top Brew and Techtonic podasts, both featured on iTunes.

Techtonic 51: A Very Geeky Household Name

This week on Techtonic, special guest Daniel Jalkut and I discuss his app developer career. Daniel has been in the Apple community since the eighties, worked for Apple out of high school, studied music in college after leaving Apple, acquired MarsEdit as an independent developer… There’s so much that he’s done that is different from other tech professionals.

I learned a lot from our talk and it’s remolding my perspective on the Mac and iOS platforms. I believe this is one of our best discussions on the show to date.

My huge thanks to our sponsor, Focus app, The simplest tool for writing task lists, marking them complete, and focusing on real work using the Pomodoro Technique from any of your Apple devices.

Top Brew 61: Don’t Flush Out Your Lightbulbs

This week in coffee, why do you get an upset stomach and heartburn? We look at why this is caused. Hint: It’s not the coffee’s acid that disturbs you.

We discuss ways to counteract coffee/stomach irritation, because we don’t want chlorogenic and gastric acid to separate you from a good cup'a joe.

Secondly, we taste test some RaceTrac coffee, from the local gas station. All things considered, convenient coffee from any station in America makes more than its worth. Why is gas station coffee big business in the modern world? We discuss.

My thanks to our sponsors:

Magic Coffee Truck: Handcrafted coffee treats from the one-of-a-kind coffee laboratory. Use discount code MAGICALLYCAFFEINATED to get 20% off any order over 10 dollars.

Thrasher Coffee: Freshly roasted, small-batch coffees shipped to your doorstep. Use TOPBREW to receive 25% off of your first coffee purchase.

Top Brew #60: Hidden Meaning in Every Mug

Aaron Dowd ‘The Podcast Dude’ of the Seanwes Network is our special guest this week. We discuss his brewing ritual: where he squeezes in 5+ brews a day on the AeroPress, how he blends it together with butter and milk, why he’s mostly using inexpensive beans, and generally how coffee fuels Aaron’s mindful lifestyle.

My thanks to our Top Brew sponsors:

Magic Coffee Truck: Handcrafted coffee treats from the one-of-a-kind coffee laboratory. Use discount code MAGICALLYCAFFEINATED to get 20% off any order over 10 dollars.

Thrasher Coffee: Freshly roasted, small-batch coffees shipped to your doorstep. Use TOPBREW to receive 25% off of your first coffee purchase.

Techtonic #49: The Man in the White Gloves

No technology show is complete till the hosts and guests describe their iPhone home screens. Joshua Peiffer, Micah Pogue and I discuss several of the best apps on ours and the philosophies we’ve applied to our app layout organization.

I want to note that the News app is missing on my iPhone. I don’t recall deleting it, and since that’s not a possibility in the first place… I’m going to assume that God took it off of my phone, because he loves me.

Top Brew #59: Coffee and Computers

Eric and I discussed three things that all have something in common. First, we talked about hands-on coffee and what’s lost in the experience of k-cups. Second, we reviewed the cupping process at Starbucks’ headquarters.

Lastly, we review a cup of Dunkin Donuts coffee. I know you’ve all been waiting to find out what we make of them, because ‘American Runs On Dunkin’. Shouldn’t ignore Dunkin.

Techtonic #48: Don Draper’s iPad

In a Part 2 to last week’s discussion of the iPad Pro, special guest John Livingston returns to discuss using the device for video entertainment. Joshua follows up on the Logitech Create keyboard case, explaining that it’s not working out for him as well as he’d hoped.

And in review, I talk about the newest MacBook (early 2015 12"). It’s become my primary Mac since the second week of February. While it’s obviously underpowered and lacking a number of handy ports, I’ve found that it impressively handles all of my needs. Listen to the show for details.


Joshua Peiffer, my cohost, was experiencing technical difficulties when it came time to record Thursday, so we were delayed a day.

Then, last night, I posted the show on our Squarespace site as usual. But as it turns out, I used special characters that aren’t allowed in a podcast’s upload to iTunes. I replaced last night’s copy with a new one today so that subscribers will receive the show in their podcast player of choice.

My apologies for any confusion or inconvenience this might have caused.

Love a Podcast

We’ve been telling you for years and now we’re making it easier for you than ever to keep up with our approach. Aaron Mahnke, creator of the Lore podcast, designed this breakdown:

Aaron’s breakdown

I’ve used several of these approaches for shows that I listen to, but one I’ve often neglected it reaching out to the podcasters to say thanks. I don’t want to come on too strong, like a looney fanboy.

Yet it’s always uplifting to hear from listeners what they’re thinking. I have a lot to be grateful for. It’s because of their example that I discovered I wanted to make my own shows.

The Apple Lineup

Monday evening, my wife, Liz, and I took the kids out to dinner. We had some exciting news to share with them.

Wait. What actually happened was my wife had some exciting news to share with the kids and I. Why I didn’t already know about the news is a whole different story.

Anyway, there we were huddled together in the restaurant’s booth. My wife pulls out her iPhone and a folded piece of paper. “I want you and the kids to open it together,” she explains. She starts recording me and the kids to see our reaction with her phone.

The kids watched closely as I unfolded the nondescript 8.5x11 and scanned the contents. Inside was an illustration my wife, the clever Microsoft Word designer that she is, created for us.

This is how my dearest told us that Number 3 is on the way.

Let’s break this down:

  • I’m the Apple Plus Pro (far left)
  • My wife is the Apple Pro SE (beside me)
  • My daughter is the Apple S Plus (right of middle)
  • My son is the Apple S (far right)
  • The new Edition is the New Apple SE (still in alpha)

We’re overjoyed. Our youngest, Jude, is six years old. Our kids have often said they want another sibling. They are taking sides already about whether they want the baby to be a boy or a girl. I don’t have a personal preference.

Liz is a little nervous but also very happy. She and I were just beginning to feel comfortable in our normal family affairs. Our kids are old enough to be interesting and playful, like cool little people — less like infants that you need to watch like a hawk.

It really does feel magical every time the family grows.

First Impressions of the MacBook

The way of what future, exactly?

The way of what future, exactly?

The 12” MacBook (early 2015) is the latest in Apple’s design for mobile. Wait, no, the iPad Pro is.

Okay, the second to most recent is the MacBook. It sports a lot of power in a slim body. Several professionals claim that they get work done on it. So, I took them at their word and upgraded (downgraded?) from a 15” MacBook Pro (2012).

As this newer computer exists, it’s able to handle all the power I need for graphic design, podcasting, and video editing. I’m thrilled with the efficiency and mobility of this Mac.

What’s not-so surprising is the frustration that comes with it. The peripherals — gosh, the lack of connectivity — is atrocious. One fancy USB-C port looks slick on the MacBook’s side, but it doesn’t have it where it counts.

In the picture, you’re looking at the best that I currently have to connect my external solid state drive to my computer. There’s a multi-port adapter connected to an Amazon Basics USB hub that’s then connected to my Seagate SSD.

Why the Mac won’t read the drive without the USB hub, the monkey in the middle, I don’t know. A reason hasn’t presented itself. I should be able to plug the drive into the multi-port adapter and it should work, but it doesn’t without the hub in between.

The peripheral issue aside, however, I like everything else about this device. I intend to publish a full review in the coming days.