Holiday Gift Guide

Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash

I put together a holiday gift guide for anyone who might need some help finding some nerdy gifts for family or friends. Some of these are personal recommendations, but some are also just things I’d have on my own wish list.

Books

Any of the books by Alan Sepinwall

I’ve only read Breaking Bad 101 so far, but I own his other two books. It’s just a matter of me getting around to watching Mad Men and maybe a couple other shows before reading them. He’s a writer I follow frequently now and he always has some great takes on TV.

Basketball (And Other Things) by Shea Serrano

Shea Serrano released this book a couple months ago and it’s a fun read. Arturo Torres returned to add some wonderful images. If you’re looking for something fun for a basketball fan, this should be on your list. However, it’s certainly not for kids.

Meet Me in the Bathroom by Lizzy Goodman

As someone who has never been part of the NY music scene, I found this to be quite the interesting read. A lot of time and effort clearly went into piecing this book together with some great interviews.

Artemis by Andy Weir

Andy Weir has done it again. This book is a must-read for the sci-fi fan in your life. If you’ve ever wondered what life on the moon could potentially look like, now is your chance to read about what actually sounds like a plausible way that could happen. Not to mention there’s an entire great story on top of the wonderful world building.

Comics

Batman by Tom King

Tom King has taken Batman and run with the character in a compelling way. Only the first volume is linked here, but I highly recommend all of the trades so far.

Super Sons by Peter J. Tomasi

Damian Wayne and Jonathan Kent go on super adventures together. Need I say more?

Descender by Jeff Lemire

This comic isn’t from this year, but I just recently read it and it’s a great story. I only had the chance to read the first volumes, but I plan to read the others as soon as I can grab copies of them.

Music

Apple Music 

At this very moment, Apple Music is offering 3 months of the service for free. It’s my music streaming service of choice and I highly recommend checking it out. Even if this may be more of a gift to yourself than it would be for others, it still counts, right?

Chris Stapleton – From A Room 

Chris Stapleton released two albums this year and both are great listens. If you know a country music fan, consider grabbing them both volumes of From A Room. 

Paramore – After Laughter

After Laughter is certainly making my AOTY list. Paramore just sounds like they had a ton of fun with this album and it’s solid start to finish.

Tech

Anker SoundBuds Slim+

I just bought these for myself because my earbuds broke on me and I wasn’t a huge fan of the replacement ones I started using that were just around the house. These are my first pair of Bluetooth earbuds and I’m loving them so far. Yes, it’s another thing to charge, but I don’t mind that.

Blue Yeti Microphone

For anyone who may be looking to start a podcast, this is a decent starter microphone. It will run you around $90 give or take. I still have one as a backup mic after upgrading my set up.

Misc.

Baron Fig Notebooks

I have a Baron Fig Confidant that I love using. I also have some of their Vanguard pocket notebooks that are great for jotting down your daily to-do list.

Writer Emergency Pack

This is one of the items on the list that I don’t own. I’ve been seeing it around quite a bit lately and it looks like a great tool for any writer to have.

Star Wars Legos

With The Last Jedi coming up soon, of course there was going to be at least one Star Wars recommendation in here. I’ve been contemplating buying a few of the smaller sets, but I honestly have no idea where I’d even have room to display any of them.

I hope you find at least something on here useful when buying gifts!

Overcast 3 Update


Overcast just received a 3.0 update on the app store. Overcast quickly became my favorite podcast app and it was a no-brainer to support Marco Arment. You can see some screenshots of the app above, but I highly recommend reading Marco’s post about what went into the new update. You can grab the app via the App Store.

tvOS Apps Can Now Be Purchased on iOS Devices and Macs

From MacStories:

Today, Apple added tvOS apps to its iTunes Link Maker web app and enabled tvOS app purchases on iOS devices, even if the tvOS app is available only on the Apple TV. iTunes Link Maker lets you search for and generate links to iTunes content. tvOS app links generated by the iTunes Link Maker open in iTunes on macOS and the App Store app on iOS where the apps can be purchased or downloaded. If automatic downloads are enabled on your Apple TV, any apps acquired this way should show up on your Apple TV the next time you turn it on. Links generated with the iTunes Link Maker also work with the iTunes Affiliate Linking program. This means that for the first time a customer can click or tap a link and purchase a tvOS app without leaving their Mac or iOS device and have it waiting for them they sit down in front of the TV.

This is a nice little move on Apple’s part.

Apple Should Have Airport Kiosks

iphone7-jetblk-34br_airpods-laydown-ob-printAfter listening to episode 106 of Upgrade this week, it made me curious as to why Apple doesn’t have kiosks at airports to sell smaller items like their EarPods, soon to be released AirPods, adapters, chargers, and other accessories. How many times have you forgotten something as simple as a lightning cable or power adapter while traveling? Probably more than you’d like to admit. It would be convenient, and likely profitable, for Apple to put in some kiosks around airport terminals so people can stock up on those smaller accessories.

We see similar kiosks in airports, and malls already. Although, most Apple stores, at least ones near me, seem to already be in malls so there’s no need there. It feels like Apple is missing out on an opportunity here, small as it may be. Why let other stores/kiosks profit off of accessories that may bot be as good as the ones Apple offers for their own products? It would be interesting to see Apple implement this in the immensely busy airports like JFK, LAX, and SFO before just putting them in a ton of airports, a chunk of which are probably too small to even have kiosks or stores in them.

I’m not knowledgeable enough on what opening stores or kiosks entails, but it seems like something that would be worthwhile for Apple to consider. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a flight, but I don’t recall seeing anything like what I briefly described. Hell, they could even sell phones at the kiosks if they thought it would work.

The Ringer Launches Website

ringer
The Ringer has officially launched their website. It’s great to see a ton of Grantland writers back on one site. Medium is a great publishing platform to team up with since they’ll provide a nice, consistent reading experience. Definitely check it out, there’s a ton of content up already. The site will be covering, sports, tech, pop culture, and more.

Spark Launches iPad Version

Spark iPad + iPhone
Spark has just released an iPad version of the app, just in time for Mailbox to be shutting down. When Spark first launched for iPhone, I reviewed it here and it looked like a very promising replacement. Now Spark is on two platforms and they’ll likely begin working on a Mac version, which is something I definitely need and I’m sure many others do as well.

The app has been making some minor changes since it’s launch last year, along with a few big ones. You now have the ability to choose between a few background colors if you weren’t thrilled about only have one choice. The iPad app runs just as smoothly as the iPhone app and the sync process has been great. With the iPad app comes the addition of a widget that pops up on the left side, allowing you to view a calendar, attachments, and more. You can customize it to your liking and add more personalized options.

There seems to always be work that needs to be done with email clients and Spark has some competition now with Outlook and Airmail being some favorites and Polymail is a new app that is currently in alpha, waiting to be released. Spark is in a great spot right now and it will be interesting to see what they come up with for the Mac app and how they improve on iOS. You can get the app here.

Recommendation: Overcast 2.0

by Deanna Chapman

It’s been a while since I’ve done any recommendations. For those of you who may not know, I listen to a ton of podcasts. I’ve been using Overcast since it was first released. Unfortunately, I had the iPhone 4 still when the app came out and I wasn’t able to make use of the in-app purchase to pay Marco Arment for his hard work. Once I upgrade to the 5s, I immediately did so and did not mind paying $5 for a great app with great features. With the 2.0 version, Marco has decided to make the app free with all of the features. You can read about his reasoning here. Smart Speed is by far the best feature I’ve encountered in a podcast app. It cuts out unnecessary silences to make your listening time shorter. For an idea of just how many podcasts I listen to, I’ve saved over 240 hours using Smart Speed. I also love the Twitter recommendation feature. If you follow users who listen to podcasts in Overcast, the shows they recommend will show up in a nice feed and there are preset categories that allow you to easily discover new podcasts. If you need any more convincing, check out Federico Viticci’s review of the app over on Macstories. You can grab the app for iOS here