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Speaking of awesome reviews, over at Tools & Toys today, Álvaro Serrano wrote an incredible review of what is, in my humble opinion, the best lens for the Micro Four-Thirds system: The Panasonic Leica 25/1.4.

I’ve been shooting with this lens for about a year and a half and continue to be amazed by the character and personality it gives to my photos. If you want to know about the technical details or if you just want to see the quality of photos this lens is capable of, look no further than Álvaro’s stellar review.

A few days ago we published the latest app review-slash-pick, and it was for our favorite read-it-later service.

Instapaper is more than just the best app for saving things to read later, it’s an awesome app in and of itself. The typography and reading experience is fantastic. And with the semi-recent additions of being able to highlight passages, make notes, and share textshots, Instapaper continues to be one of my personal favorite apps (though that doesn’t mean I don’t still have a list of unread articles from here to New Jersey).

Monday, July 13

Much of what people love about the Uuni still remains the same:

  • It heats up to 840°F (450°C) in less than 10 minutes.
  • That intense heat cooks a pizza in under 2 minutes.
  • It burns wood for an authentic flavour.

We spent the last 6 months refining it, making it even better.

Here’s what’s new: it’s super fast to assemble, less than ten minutes. It’s now easier to adjust the temperature with its clever hopper system. And we now make it out of beautiful brushed stainless steel. Check it out, and make sure to read some of the reviews our customers have left — we’re very proud of them.

Food. Fire. Uuni.

As a launch week offer, please use the code thesweetsetup for $20/£15 off your Uuni 2.

* * *

My thanks to Uuni for again sponsoring the site this week. As I’ve said before, I ordered an Uuni of my own last year and it’s awesome. Making homemade pizza is a lot of fun, and having your own pizza oven that you can fire up in your backyard is fantastic.

Speaking of zigging and zagging, Kyle Steed wrote an excellent article to accompany an equally amazing mural he illustrated.

Go Big and Go Home - Kyle Steed

We can’t have it all. This is true. At one point or another we must all decide what is more important in life. But I believe there does exist a balance in life whereby we can create amazing things and still create an amazing life at home. […]

I have seen firsthand the examples of how success can intersect with family and there’s no looking back.

Tuesday, July 7

Marius Masalar wrote a review for us over on Tools & Toys of the Fuji X100T. Fantastic review, fantastic photos.

While I’m very happy with my E-M10, my heart goes out to anyone in the market to get an awesome camera. There are just so many amazing cameras out there today, not the least of which is the one that’s in your pocket (unless, that is, you’re holding it right now as you read this).

Monday, July 6

And, speaking of podcasts, I was also privileged to be a guest on the latest episode of Home Work. Dave, Aaron, and I talked about the glories and the terrors of life as a work-from-home dad. I also shared a lot of the behind-the-scenes regarding the what and why of The Focus Course, and answered several questions from show listeners regarding writing routines, building an audience, and investing in your work.

I was just recently a guest on Joe Darnell and Joshua Peiffer’s podcast, TechTonic. It was a great show where we talked about writing, design, using technology, and a whole lot more.

Monday, June 29

Just a friendly reminder that today is the last day to sign up for The Focus Course at the special launch price.

The Focus Course is normally $249. But during the launch week (which ends today), the course is just $199.

And keep in mind, you don’t have to start the course right away, nor do you have to complete it in 40 consecutive days. You get lifetime access to the course and the website, thus you are free to go at any pace that works for you.

There is no rush to complete it (or even start it) until you’re ready. And since the website keeps track of which days you have completed, it is easy to keep track of your progress in case you have to take time off from the course.

Ready to bring your life into focus? Sign up here. You’ll get instant access to everything right away.

Saturday, June 27

First off: I can’t even mention the Focus Course without giving a huge thanks to everyone who has helped spread the word about the course and all those who signed up this week. The response and positive feedback has been far beyond what I expected. You guys are awesome!

Secondly, I wanted to share with you this bonus video and article from the course website. As you probably know, in addition to the 40-day course itself, there are several additional bonus videos and articles, just like this one.

The video and article I’m sharing with you here is the response to one of the most asked questions I’ve been getting over the past year: “I have way more ideas than time, what do I do?”

I hope that this bonus video and article will help you. Also, I share it to give you an example of the quality found on The Focus Course. I put a lot of time and energy into the design, content, and overall quality of the site so that not only would it be helpful and impactful, but also an awesome and enjoyable experience.

Friday, June 12

I’m back from San Francisco and am glad to return to the podcast microphone. (Yes, yes. I hear you. I could have taken my podcast rig with me. But I’m lazy. Also, I went to SF to meet with friends and peers in the industry and drink delicious coffee and so I had very little time for “work” stuff because I’m bad at multitasking.)

On today’s episode of my podcast, The Weekly Briefly, I talk about the highlights from the WWDC Keynote (there are many), Apple Music, and my thoughts on Apple’s new publishing platform slash RSS reader slash news aggregator, Apple News.

Brought to you the New Uuni 2: Food. Fire. Uuni.

Tuesday, June 9

Much of what people love about the Uuni still remains the same:

  • It heats up to 840°F (450°C) in less than 10 minutes.
  • That intense heat cooks a pizza in under 2 minutes.
  • It burns wood for an authentic flavour.

We spent the last 6 months refining it, making it even better.

Here’s what’s new: it’s super fast to assemble, less than ten minutes. It’s now easier to adjust the temperature with its clever hopper system. And we now make it out of beautiful brushed stainless steel. Check it out, and make sure to read some of the reviews our customers have left — we’re very proud of them.

As a launch week offer, please use the code thesweetsetup for $20/£15 off your Uuni 2.

* * *

My thanks to Uuni for sponsoring the site this week. On a personal note, last year I ordered an Uuni of my own and it’s fantastic. Making homemade pizza is a lot of fun, and having your own personal wood-fired pizza oven that you can pop up in your backyard is awesome.

Wednesday, May 20

And hey, speaking of calendars, yesterday we published our review and pick for the best calendar app you can get for your Mac. It’s Fantastical 2.

Chris Bowler, writing for The Sweet Setup:

Managing your time has long been a part of the knowledge worker’s day, and calendar apps have been around almost as long as email. But while the quantity of available options is high, the number of quality calendar apps is a small handful.

The option that is best suited for you will depend on your needs, but a closer inspection has shown us that, for most people, Fantastical 2 is the best calendar application for OS X users.

Mike Monteiro:

In my experience, most people don’t schedule their work. They schedule the interruptions that prevent their work from happening. […]

People rarely schedule working time. And when they do it’s viewed as second-tier time. It’s interruptible. Meetings trump working time. Why?

The other problem is that for so many corporate and team environments, the schedule for makers is run by managers. A manager gets things done by checking off their to-do list 15 minutes at a time. A maker, however, gets things done by working on something that doesn’t fit on a to-do list, and they need a good 4 hours of uninterrupted time (preferably one or two of those each day for a week or two).

See also Paul Graham’s article, Makers Schedule, Manager’s Schedule.

Tuesday, May 19

Nate Barham wrote and photographed a fantastic review of the Space Gray Retina MacBook:

Indeed, if the Air moniker was meant to convey lightness and thinness, the new MacBook’s name communicates its purpose equally well. Take the air out of the Air, shrink it down even further, and see what you get.

Monday, May 18

Speaking of Watch faces, Ben Brooks makes the case for how the Watch is an ideal gadget for nice events. It looks great when dressed up, you can customize the watch face to suit your outfit, and because of the discretion of notifications on the Watch, you’re not pulling your phone out all the time when at a social event. That’s pretty much exactly why I got a Watch — less reason to use my iPhone when out and about.

And speaking of customize the watch face to suit your outfit, one thing I love about Apple Watch is that you can save your various customized faces.

At first I thought you could only have one customized face of each type, and if you wanted to change that Watch face up you had to dive in and customize it again. But that’s not true, you can add as many custom Watch faces as you like and then have the handful of your favorites all at your fingertips. So you can have your go-to everyday Watch face, your work-out Watch face, etc.

Stephen Hackett gives a rundown of the 10 different Watch faces:

While having so many options is great, many of the faces have frustrating limitations in the ways they can be customized or used.

Agreed: I’d love to get more ability to customize / swap-out different elements from different faces. But that’s just a minor quibble, really. About five days in with my Watch, and the faces are hands down one of my favorite features.

I’ve been mostly using the Utility face with the most basic detail allowable, activity rings in the upper left and current temp in the upper right. Then I’ll customize the color of the second hand and the date depending on what I’m wearing. Kinda dorky? Sure. But why not have fun with it?

The Modular and X-Large faces are also pretty fantastic. And I had no idea about just how interactive and cool the Astronomy face is.

David Chartier’s initial impressions of his Apple Watch mirror my own almost exactly. Keep it to only the most important-to-you notifications, the collective activity and health features add up to something pretty fantastic, and glances are where it’s at.

Monday, May 11

If you’re like us, you spend hours every morning browsing through hundreds of posts on your RSS feed, hoping to stumble across relevant news stories. We built WebdesignerNews to provide web designers and developers with a single location to discover the latest and most significant stories on the Web. We search through hundreds of posts on blogs, social media, and news channels, to deliver the most essential stories of the day. Our content covers quality news, fresh tools and apps, case studies, code demos, inspiration posts, videos and more. Check it out!

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My thanks to WebdesignerNews for sponsoring the site this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

Monday, May 4

Wired In is about letting others know when you’re getting things done. Your friends and coworkers don’t mean to interrupt you while you’re in the zone, they just have no way to know that you’re in the middle of something big.

Your Wired In sign comes with a beautiful rounded aluminum base, bright, adjustable LEDs, and an interchangeable custom laser etched acrylic with your favorite saying that lights up when you’re busy.

Wired In was built for the way you work by a team of engineers, writers, and designers. Our iOS, OS X, and Apple Watch apps give easy access to control your sign via keyboard shortcuts, simple gestures, IFTTT integrations, or even Siri.

Whether you’re a writer ‘In the Zone’, a podcaster ‘On Air’, or a developer ‘Wired In’, your sign will let others know you’re busy, so you can get things done.

Wired In is available for preorder on Kickstarter in both individual and team packages. Get your team Wired In, preorder your signs today.

* * *

My thanks to Wired In for sponsoring the RSS feed this week.

Friday, April 24

Speaking of Apple Watch… I began wearing a watch several years ago — maybe four years ago — because I was tired of constantly pulling my pone out of my pocket in order to check the time only to find myself suddenly checking email, Twitter, etc.

With two Apple Watches en route to the Blanc Household, I’m curious if Apple Watch will make the compulsive checking of Twitter and Email easier or harder. This week’s episode of The Weekly Briefly is all about that.

Sponsored by:

Monday, April 20

This past week’s episode of the Weekly Briefly was a short one. I’ve been a single dad for the past 5 days while my wife was on a trip. And I — ahem — chose, that instead of juggling both my boys and trying to keep up with work stuff as best I can, I would put all the work stuff on pause and be 100-percent dad. Totally worth it.

Elgato Avea​ transforms your home with beautiful dynamic light moods.

No matter the weather and season outside — with Avea, bring the atmosphere you like to your home. Control your ambience from your iPhone or iPad and unwind in one of the carefully crafted settings with subtly changing light. For example, let the Cherry Blossom setting fill your house with springlike cosiness.

After a relaxing evening, simply set your alarm using the built-in wake-up light scene. With Avea, rise and shine along a natural sunrise, right in your bedroom.

Avea connects directly to your iPhone or iPad using Bluetooth Smart technology, without requiring additional gateways or bridges. But it doesn’t stop there: once you have chosen a light scene, the smart LED lightbulb will take care of the rest, not requiring a constant connection to your iPhone or iPad. Connect more than one Avea, and they will automatically coordinate their lighting to create an even more immersive atmosphere.

Even better, Avea is soon available on Apple Watch, making it easier than ever to pick the perfect lighting for your mood – right from your wrist.

Avea is available for US $39.95 h​ere.​



My thanks to Avea for sponsoring the site this week. Sponsorship by The Syndicate.

Tuesday, April 14

This year’s WWDC logo is fantastic. My favorite compared to the past several years for sure. You’ve got the iPhone and iPad app icons, watch icons, and is that an Apple TV in the center? “The epicenter of change.”? Surely there’s more going on here than just a hint at fancier stuff that the Watch will be able to do.

Speaking of The Sweet Setup, this week’s setup interview is with a friend of mine, Kelly Tomlinson. Kelly’s a fellow Kansas Citian, and she plays a very active role in Kansas City’s tech and design scene.

Mike Schmitz wrote a fantastic app review for us on The Sweet Setup in our pick for the best Mind Mapping app (for iPad and iOS):

MindNode has the perfect balance between beautiful design, ease of use, standard features like iCloud syncing between your Mac and iOS devices, and import/export features to make it a functional part of any workflow.

The best thing about MindNode is that it is incredibly easy to use. The UI is simple and intuitive, even if you’re not an experienced mind mapper. In fact, you could probably start using MindNode without even fully understanding the concept of mind mapping because the user interface will actually teach you how to do it.

MindNode is awesome — I use it regularly. It’s basically my office’s white board and then some.

Friday, April 10

On this week’s episode of my podcast, The Weekly Briefly, I talk about the purpose of (and the science behind) lifestyle practices and daily habits.

This topic is one of the most important issues of my life. I have a personal commitment to live with intentionality in as many areas of my life as I can. I want to be intentional in my marriage and in how I raise my boys. I want to be intentional with my business and family finances, with my creative work, with how I spend my time, with my diet, and more.

This week’s show was sponsored by:

Tuesday, April 7

Over on The Sweet Setup, we’ve just updated our pick for podcast apps with a new favorite: Overcast.

There are many podcast clients in the App Store. Our new pick for what we consider to be the best podcast client for iOS is Overcast. Overcast has a very easy-to-use interface, in the year since it was released it has seen frequent updates, and it’s available as a universal iOS app and a web-based player. But best of all are Overcast’s two most useful and compelling features: Smart Speed and Voice Boost (which we’ll get into later).

Overcast has become the podcast client of choice for all of us here at The Sweet Setup. Its Smart Speed feature has saved us a more than a cumulative 100 extra hours of listening time, beyond just standard speed adjustments alone. After comparing it to the competition and using it extensively, Overcast is the podcasting app we recommend.

My friend, Chase Reeves, interviewed Mike Vardy and me for one of the recent episodes of The Fizzle Show. It’s a great episode — not your typical three dudes talking on a Skype Call type of show, it’s tightly edited and constructed, more like an episode 99pi or something you’d hear on NPR.

Now, I’m not sure that I’d call myself an “expert”, but I will say that having a daily de-brief that includes what progress I made that day, combined with writing down the single most important thing I need to do tomorrow has literally changed my work life.

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