Best Gadgets of 2018

It's difficult to think of 2018 as a year with anything worth celebrating. But despite all the bad news the year dealt us, there were successes -- if you know where to look. In all corners of tech, we saw wins big and small. There were advances in obvious categories like laptops, smartphones and the connected home, but we also looked outside the mainstream for some of the more surprising gems. Think mini synthesizers for music nerds, retro emulators for nostalgic gamers and e-readers for modern book snobs.

Gadgets are the best. 😁

The best gadgets of 2018


Alex Honold on Free Soloing El Capitan

In this TED Talk, Alex Honnold talks about how he was able to feel so comfortable on his iconic Freerider free solo, and how he overcame his fear. Honnold starts with a brief version of how he became a climber, and then tells the story of his two most significant free solos: Half Dome and El Capitan.

My hands sweat just thinking about it.

TED: Alex Honnold—How I Climbing a 3,000-Foot Vertical Cliff Without Ropes


America’s 25 Classic Boulder Problems

Humans have been exploring boulders in America for hundreds of years, going back to the Native Americans who lived in and around many of today’s bouldering areas. In the 1950s and ‘60s, John Gill began taking gymnastics to the rocks, seeking challenges on small cliffs and boulders from Illinois to the Tetons to the Black Hills to Colorado. But he was largely alone until well into the 1970s and ‘80s, when bouldering started to become seen as a pursuit in its own right. Given the size and geological diversity of the US, we may very well have the most—and most varied—bouldering in the world. We also have an extraordinary legacy of classic problems from V0 to V16, with seemingly endless potential left. To list the 25 best problems in America is a challenge.

Yes please.

The Classic 25: America's Best Boulder Problems


Siri Shortcuts, an Apple ‘How To’

If you're absolutely new to the Shortcuts app and never played with Workflow before, this is where I'd start. The guide goes into great detail about what shortcuts are, how you can organize them, and what types of input are supported in Shortcuts. There's also an Advanced section where – and I never thought I'd see this – Apple explains x-callback-url and web APIs. Some of these sections have been adapted from the old Workflow documentation, but it's a fantastic resource regardless. And once you're done reading through Apple's materials, I'll be waiting here.

You know if Apple put a ‘How To’ together that it will be good.

I used the Workflows app for years to help me with posting here quickly from apps like Instapaper. Now that it’s integrated with Siri, I can do a whole lot more.

And so can you.

Shortcuts User Guide


Bear Notes vs Apple Notes

I have a thing about text applications. I love the idea of an app that can hold little buckets of text. I look at these as reference libraries, and I've gone through a string of apps for this purpose over the years. For the last couple of years, I've mainly been using Apple Notes as a result of its stability and deep integration throughout the operating system.

But there are things about Apple Notes I don’t like. My biggest complaint is the slow rate of innovation. I know that comes with the territory of a stock application, but I was hoping by now that it would have a few more bells and whistles.

Also—I acknowledge this is petty—I have never been comfortable with the textured paper design background of Apple Notes. Every year I think they will remove it, and every year it stays in. They have even made textured paper for dark mode. This seems silly, but it grinds on me.

The natural replacement was Bear, a similar notes app that has been out a few years and has been gaining traction. I have played with Bear on and off since it first launched. I have even subscribed. However, its innovative functions never got quite far enough for me to want to invest in it fully until last week.

With the release of Mac OS Mojave and iOS 12, Bear pulls ahead with innovation. I’ve been toying with the app for the last week, and a few days ago, I moved my 1,000+ Apple Notes into Bear. This is still just an experiment.

This is saying a lot coming from Mac Sparky. Bear is one of those applications that makes me wish I could do more work from my Mac.

I'm Trying Bear


Your First Trad Lead Starts With These Steps...

Stop crying. That comes later.

You’ve prepared for this. You’re ready. You’ve spent an hour placing cams and nuts on the ground, yanking on them, questioning if they’re good, and settling on, “I guess—probably?” You’ve read John Long’s Climbing Anchors, and in a no-stress environment can easily recall some of it. You’ve been “mentored” by that guy who carries everything he needs to build a 3-1 pulley on his harness while bouldering at the gym. You’ve prepared enough that it’s turned into procrastination. Suck it up and start leading. Here’s how:


Unsent: An Honest Guide to Your First Trad Lead


4Runner Anytime Rear and Front Camera Install

This mod allows for a couple different options.

You can go with the anytime backup camera alone which allows you to view your backup camera at any time with the push of a button. You can also opt for the additional front camera which can also be viewed at any time. For this, you need to buy a front-facing camera separately.

I’m definitely going to do this mod.

Anytime Backup Camera and Add Front Camera on Toyota 4Runner Install


How Greta Van Fleet Became the Most Controversial Rock Band of 2018

After a viral Pitchfork review, which rewarded the record a 1.6 rating on the site's 10.0 scale, said they sounded "like they did weed exactly once, called the cops, and tried to record a Led Zeppelin album before they arrested themselves," fans mobilized to defend the band's honor online. Websites wrote up the incident with headlines like "Pitchfork Destroyed Greta Van Fleet's New Album and Rock Fans Are Pissed." Jokes were made; familiar pop culture battle lines were drawn. Did you miss the whole controversy? Or simply have no idea what the fuss is about? Unfortunately, we do. I don’t remember how I discovered Greta Van Fleet, but when I first heard the lead singer belting out his opening wail in “Safari Song” (from their 2017 album) I distinctly remember snapping out of whatever I was thinking about and looking at my car radio in awe.

If you haven’t heard any of their stuff, I highly recommend starting with their 2017 album ‘From the Fires’ then head right over to their 2018 ‘Anthem of a Peacful Army’. Rolling Stones opinion be damned, this is some great stuff.

How Greta Van Fleet Became the Most Controversial Rock Band of 2018


Boost Productivity with These Proven Tips and Listens

Many people use music when they are trying to focus, and similarly, it is often used by students that are looking for a way to study effectively. Personally, I always like to have background noise while I am working, and it was the same when I studied at university.

Sometimes it was the TV, other times my playlist, but it worked well for me. For those that enjoy listening to tunes while they work, there are quite a few benefits to the process. However, it should also be remembered that it is not a process that will work for everyone.

Interestingly, there are some types of music that will work better than others when boosting productivity, and so it might be worth adjusting your playlist accordingly – something that we will explore in more detail later on. So, what is the best music for studying?

In this article, we take an in-depth look at the tunes that are best for boosting your productivity, as well as some of our recommended listens.

Boost Productivity with These Proven Tips and Listens


The 7 Most Secluded Hikes in the U.S.

In my younger years, I frequented the Sherburne Wildlife Management Area (WMA), deep within Louisiana’s 1 million–acre Atchafalaya River Basin, to hunt migrating waterfowl or whitetail deer in fall and winter. In summer, I always returned to hike and camp and was usually the only soul on the maze of trails or in the bayous, making the region a far cry from the crowded state parks nearby. The property became a place of solace, where I knew I could trek for miles in the backcountry, sharing it only with bears and alligators.

These WMAs exist in most states and are maintained for wildlife habitat. They make for fantastic hiking trails and pristine forests after hunters pack up for the season. With our national parks growing ever more crowded, we rounded up seven of the best WMAs around the country for those who want to avoid the masses.

These Are the 7 Most Secluded Hikes in the U.S.