Things I like this week, volume 11.

LifeProof Nüüd for iPhone 6 Plus
I’ve spent most of the summer wondering if I should get another LifeProof case for my 6 Plus. I’ve previously used the Frē for the iPhone 5 when we went on vacation, and it was terrific. The only available case the company makes for the behemoth 6 Plus is the Nüüd, which leaves the screen exposed, and achieves a waterproof seal via a tight gasket on the screen itself. The very thought of this makes my skin crawl, but it actually works.

I finally gave in at the beach last weekend and picked up a white Nüüd when I was out grocery shopping. It makes the 6 Plus–already a big customer–even bigger. But it protects the thing like a tank. And it adds (in spite of its size) a decent grip factor to the device. It’s probably more akin to a small paperback book now than a phone, based on its dimensions, but I find it to be quite comfortable. And I think having the original screen surface exposed makes a huge difference in reading and typing. While I like the protection the Frē offers, I never cared for the way the screen felt with the heavy plastic layer.

Touch ID works perfectly well, and it’s always nice to not worry about your device when you’re away and near the pool or beach. I’m leaving it on every day for now while we’re still traveling a bit; we’ll see if that remains the case into the fall. Nice upside though: since Apple usually refreshes phones in the “S” cycle with the same body type, this case should be good next year too.

LifeProof Nüüd for iPhone 6 Plus

Things I like this week, volume 10.

El Rey Network
Something I stumbled onto completely by chance, Robert Rodriguez launched a TV network specializing in grindhouse, cult horror, kung fu, and action content. The aesthetic of the network, the bumpers, the commercials, everything shares a cool kind of gritty, neo-70s look and feel. Had it not been for our recent life changes (moving out of our house), I might not have even found this channel.

I subscribed to Sling TV because we don’t have our FiOS hookup where we are right now, and my wife and I are lightly addicted to zoning out over HGTV shows after a long day. I guess we’re masochists in that way–we’re living out of our house while it’s under heavy construction, and we relax by watching other people tear houses apart. We’re odd folk, what can I say?

Anyway, I subscribed to Sling because HGTV is among the channels offered, and El Rey is in the package too. I was flipping around earlier this week and caught The Running Man from the start. Naturally, I had to watch it, because duh. But I was delighted during commercial breaks to see all kinds of other stuff (Italian zombie movies!) I’d be into. It’s all pulled off in a way that calls back to the style that Rodriguez loves and is known for, and he hosts a show interviewing directors that looks pretty great (I’ve yet to catch it). The home page for the network is actually really well done too, capturing that exact feel of the movies it’s showcasing (mouse over the tiles under “El Rey is…” and watch the header too).

Most interestingly, the network is actively seeking makers of cool content as well as increasing visibility for underserved Latino/Hispanic audiences. I’ve been a fan of Rodriguez since I saw Desperado by chance in my freshman year of college during a showing in the student center. I’m delighted to see him still doing so much cool stuff and pushing things forward with his vision.

El Rey Network

Things I like this week, volume 9.

We’re living with my parents while our house is renovated, in about 1/4 the space we’re used to, with an almost 3-year-old and a 4-month-old baby. The construction loan process has been going on for months and still isn’t finalized and I am awash in seas of paperwork, as is the way with these things. In the meantime, we’re funneling money out of our savings account to pay for the work, since we don’t want to be displaced forever, and construction is always easier in the warmer months. Last night, our TV’s HDMI ports–all of them–inexplicably stopped working, so none of our connected devices will work either, and my kid is going to be super pissed when she finds out she can’t watch her stuff for a bit.

My pick for this week is bourbon. Delicious, sadness-removing, life-giving bourbon. It is wonderful, and without it, I would probably have thrown myself into the mouth of a bear or something earlier this week. Bourbon comes in many excellent varieties and is available to people of legal drinking age in most liquor stores.

Any port in a storm.

I’ve started traveling with an Amazon Fire TV Stick, because it’s tiny and has access to most of the kid stuff my older daughter likes. It works pretty well, except when your internet connection is terrible, which it most certainly is when you find yourself staying somewhere with a DSL modem.

We tried watching some kid stuff on Prime yesterday and it stopped and started, displaying warnings about the network speed and occasionally just locking up entirely. Later on, my wife and I gave HBO Go a spin, and it was a complete disaster, with the video pausing every 10 seconds or so.

Netflix, however, compensates about as well as any service I’ve seen that delivers video content. Yes, the resolution degrades pretty severely if you’re watching on a low-bandwidth connection, but the video keeps playing. I wouldn’t watch an effects-driven blockbuster like this, but for some episodes of Thomas and Daniel Tiger so my kid’s happy? It’s more than adequate.

Traveling with little ones is hard. I’ll take a win anywhere I can. Netflix is my hero this weekend.

Expanding aural story horizons.

I’ve been increasingly tired of technology podcasts. For an industry so focused on being all about the next big thing, we can collectively talk about the same things for a freakishly long time on occasion. Stack up a few shows that cover similar topics, and you find yourself essentially listening to the same show more than once.

There are so many other things in the world, I sometimes forget how refreshing it can be to learn a new thing or even just hear a story told in a compelling way. I dropped a lot of the podcasts I’ve been listening to for months (or even years in some cases) and began exploring new things. I’m ruling the experiment a success. Here are some of my current favorites.

Produced by my friend Aaron Mahnke, Lore is a bi-weekly podcast focused on telling stories about the things that scare us. Rich with research and history, and sure to almost always creep you out, it’s a small glimpse into the darker corners of our past and why they remain so.

Lore / iTunes

The Memory Palace
Brief, heartbreaking, inspiring, stories of wonder, human weakness, triumph, and all the quietly forgotten bits of history. Like fading wisps of smoke, Nate DiMeo brings these bits of time back to the present, tells a tiny tale, and then leaves you always wondering about it.

The Memory Palace / iTunes

A tightly produced story/interview show about the bad things people do. From the macabre to the absurd, every single episode is an interesting glimpse into the human psyche, often with very surprising outcomes.

Criminal / iTunes

99% Invisible
A weekly show about design and architecture, with terrific production values and excellent storytelling. Sometimes it covers topics I’m already familiar with, sometimes it touches on things I’ve never heard of. Sometimes it takes something that I assume is going to be boring and makes it positively enthralling. Which tells me a lot about my own expectations and why I should be open to new things in the first place.

99% Invisible / iTunes

I’m really enjoying these shows immensely, and I’m continuing the search for more. I’d love to know what you’re enjoying too.