Five Things I'm Diggin' – 3/27/14

  1. Rogers Family Coffee – This family-owned coffee company has addressed the two biggest issues I have with my Keurig 2.0. First, Keurig K-cups are indefensible from an environmental point of view. I didn't know this when I bought it, but it's true. Rogers has mostly solved this by creating their own pod which is 97% biodegradable. They're working on 100%, and unlike Keurig, they're serious about it and I expect they'll attain it in the not-too-distant future. The second issue Rogers solves is they give away with their coffee a little clip that defeats Keurig's infamous DRM system, which keeps the 2.0 coffee makers from working with non-licensed coffee pods (such as the Rogers pods). Everybody hates the Keurig DRM system. It's punitive to both customers and coffee vendors, and it's clear that it was crassly designed to drive licensing revenues for Keurig which is just plain greedy. But Rogers' clip installs unobtrusively and fools the 2.0 into thinking every pod is has the necessary DRM tag.  None of this would matter if Rogers Family coffee wasn't any good, but it is very good indeed. Perhaps not my very favorite coffee pod, but it's up there. The price is reasonable as pod coffee goes; definitely worth it for the environmental benefits.

  1. Flipside 3X wallet – The wallet reimagined. What I like about the 3X is 1) its small but rugged; 2) it organizes my wallet contents nicely; 3) it protects my credit cards from RFID scanning; 4) it forces me to not be a wallet hoarder; and 5) there are expansion attachments for adding capacity when I need it (like I'm going to a tradeshow and I need to carry business cards). I have to admit I'm lukewarm on the plasticky look, but from a purely functional point of view it's a terrific design.

  1. Tracktion DAW – I finally settled on Tracktion as my DAW. In the end, user interface won out. Tracktion's UI is exceptionally easy and fun once you learn just a few key concepts. In fact, I think the learning curve for Tracktion is shallower than any other DAW I've used, which includes Pro Tools, Sonar, Reaper, FL Studio, and Ableton Live. I love its consistent use of drag-and-drop; I like the modeless, all-from-one-screen interface; I love how it uses context sensitivity to hide irrelevant buttons and options; and I greatly prefer its flat UI design that doesn't clutter the screen with photorealism. The only mixed feelings I have about its UI concern the fact it doesn't have a traditional mixer view (a casualty of the single screen philosophy). It's easy enough to adapt to, but the vertical arrangement of channels means that you can't see as many of them on your screen at once. On the other hand, Tracktion's mixer is infinitely configurable which is really cool. For all its ease of use, Tracktion doesn't give up functionality. I don't claim that its a feature-for-feature match with those other DAWs, but it is their equivalent from a music capability standpoint. (Except for Ableton Live, which has some pretty unique features for live performance.) In other words, there is a reasonable way to accomplish virtually any task you need to do in recording music. I don't feel in any way limited by it. And since it was taken over by the original developer team, the support for Tracktion has been excellent. The only knock I have on Tracktion is that it doesn't come with many plug-ins.

  1. Aviator Smokehouse – This is the restaurant side of the Aviator Brewing Company in Fuquay Varina. Their BlackMamba wings are some of the best wings I've eaten. The name sounds like they'd be scorching hot, but they're fairly mild. The name actually derives from the fact that the sauce is made from Aviator's BlackMamba Oatmeal Stout beer, which apparently makes a killer wing sauce. Of course the beers at Aviator are all excellent as well. The aforementioned BlackMamba stout is a favorite, but the HogWild IPA, and the WideOpen Red are good as well. Highly recommended.

  1. 3 Displays – My office mate at work opted to relocate early to our office in Durham (we're all moving there in a few months) and left his two computer displays. I commandeered one of them to supplement my own display. So including my laptop's built-in display, my system now has three displays spanning my desk and I've configured my computer to use them as one big desktop spanning all three. It feels positively decadent. The desktop metaphor for operating system UI has been prevalent since the late '80s. But I've always joked that its flawed because no one would use a desk that was as small as a computer display. Well, three displays is a right proper desktop! I think I'm forever spoiled.