Christmas Movies

Around the holidays, our family has a list of movies that we like to watch. It’s a tradition that we’ve tried to keep for a few years now. It’s not always easy, but it’s one of the things we can all usually agree on.

Some of our favorite movies are:

This year I’ve added A Christmas Story to the list to watch. I used to watch this movie all of the time growing up. I found it hard to imagine that no one else has even seen the movie. I hope to fix that problem this year.

This year, we haven’t started watching any. I feel like we’re really behind. The kids have been so busy that it makes it hard to sit down and do things as a family. I hope we’re OK. We still have about two weeks left to watch everything.

My favorites on this list are either National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation or Die Hard. I love these movies. Elf is another good one. But Christmas Vacation makes me laugh so hard. Die Hard is just a good movie to watch from time to time.

I’m looking forward to seeing these movies this year.

New House

It’s been a crazy Summer.

Not only did I spend a significant amount of time this Summer preparing to ship an app, but we also bought a new house. Things got even crazier because we closed on the new house on the exact same day we shipped the app.

Our new house is less than two miles from the old house. We’ve been looking for a new house for roughly three years. We were only interested in houses within the same township we’ve lived in for over 10 years now. We’ve looked at a few dozen houses in the area and weren’t thrilled with any of them. This house came up in the ideal neighborhood and we decided to move quickly on it. The funny thing is that we actually looked at this house a year ago, but moved a little too slow and the old owners rented it out.

What we did was buy the new house and then move a lot of stuff from the old house to the new house before listing. We bought the house on a Wednesday and had our open house the next Sunday. Our old house sold within days of listing, which was very nice. We then had about a month to move everything else out and into the new house.

I’m still not sure owning two houses at the same time was a blessing or not. It meant that we could slowly move most of our belongings over ourselves. It also meant that we had stuff scattered between two houses and weren’t usually sure where things were. There was one Saturday where I went between the houses four times in a 30 minute time frame to find my son’s full soccer uniform. We were kind of a mess for a week or two.

We are all moved into the new house now. We still have plenty of things in boxes, but we’ll be moving them to where they need to be over the next few weeks/months. The old house has been sold and has new owners now.

There was a lot of things happening all at once and it lead to a very stressful end of Summer. There was even more news, but that’ll be in a future post - very soon. I hope that things can start to calm down a little now.

DC Universe

DC Universe is a new product that my company (Warner Bros. Digital Labs) recently shipped.

It’s a project that a lot of us in the company have been working on for almost two years now. We’ve had other projects to work on during that time, but during the last few months, this has taken center stage during our days, nights and weekends.

I’ve spent a lot of time working on the comic book reader for both iOS and tvOS. I’ve worked on other parts of the app(s), but my “baby” was the comic book reader(s). They aren’t perfect and I could probably tell you everything that’s wrong with them. But I’m proud of how they turned out. The iOS/tvOS comic book reader(s) were both written (mostly) by me and from scratch. It was nice to see something like that come to fruition.

We had a very rough Summer getting it ready for consumers and finally released it on September 12th. There was a bit of time where I wasn’t sure if we would ship the app. But we all pulled through and shipped an amazing app.

The DC Universe app was featured on day one. Since then, we’ve had an App Store Story featured about the app. That was a really good feeling. It was also a first for me and any project I’ve worked on before. We’ve had a few apps featured, but never had an app store story about them.

We recently released an update that featured some original content (Titans) that was developed explicitly for the app. It’s something that we’ve been talking about for a long time and it’s finally out for others to enjoy too.

I know the entire team was proud of what we have built. I’m not sure what’s coming next for the app and service, but it will be fun to watch.

Notes Apps: Bear vs Agenda

Both Bear and Agenda are note taking apps for macOS and iOS. Both are great note taking apps that support my favorite markup syntax called Markdown.

I’ve been a Bear user for over a year now. I use it on a daily basis. I’ve even included it in a post about My Development Toolbox. I really do use it almost every day and I really love the app. I’m happy to pay the yearly subscription fee for it.

Recently (roughly two months ago), a new note taking app was released for macOS and iOS call Agenda. It looked promising. It also has a few features that Bear does not have. Agenda allows you to link notes to both calendar events (and days) and to people. These custom features are great for taking notes during a meeting. You can have notes and action items from a meeting (or day) linked directly in your note taking app.

Agenda is a really well done app. However, there is one feature that is missing from the app that is currently a dealbreaker. Inline images. I often attach screenshots or other images to my notes all the time. Agenda doesn’t currently support this. But it’s something that they are currently working on.

There are also something about the user interface in Agenda that I’m not completely sold on. If you have a bunch of notes, they can be difficult to hide (or declutter). If I want to only focus on a given note at a time, Agenda’s interface makes that tough. Bear has this nice sidebar with a list of notes, which I can select one and focus on it completely.

For now, I am going to continue to use Bear as my main note taking app. I am a subscriber to both Bear and Agenda. As Agenda continues to evolve, I will revisit from time to time to see how they are growing.

July Books

Photo by Aaron Burden

I did a little better job of reading in July than I did in June. I had a few books that I was determined to finish. At the start of the month, I had too many books that were in progress. I’ve finished a few, but I think I still have too many books that are in progress. I’m still trying to finish those before I start any new books.

What books are in progress?

I’ve got three books that I’ve been reading for over a few months. I really want to finish these before picking up a new book.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

I’ve been reading Doctor Sleep for a long time. A few years in fact. It’s been great so far. Oddly enough, I remember what’s happening in the story.

This was a paperback book that I bought a while ago and left in the car to read during my son’s soccer practices. I’d read for an hour or so and then leave the book in the car until the next practice. Whenever my wife or daughter came along I didn’t read the book. Likewise, if I just dropped him off and ran home (or errands), I wouldn’t read it either. There were also other times, when I would read a different book.

This book is still sitting in my car. 🤣 Needless to say, I need (and want) to finish this book.

Server-Side Swift (Vapor Edition) by Paul Hudson

I started reading Server-Side Swift (Vapor Edition) a few months ago before Summer started. I made some amazing progress in a few days. Since then I’ve slacked off quite a bit.

I can’t just read this book. The book is a series of projects that you need to work through with a computer. So I typically setup the book on my iPad and work through the examples one by one.

I’ve learned quite a bit about server-side Swift so far. I’m about halfway through the book. I have finally been able to get back to the book. I should be able to work through the rest of the book in the next few weeks.

Becoming Steve Jobs by Brent Schlender & Rick Tetzeli

I’ve also been reading Becoming Steve Jobs for a long time. I got this book on the Apple iBooks Store. I had been reading it slowly at night on my phone. When I’m reading in bed, I usually opt for fiction instead. Reading non-fiction has never been my strong suit, I typically read it much slower than fiction.

Normally, when I read fiction, I prefer listening to an audio version. It’s just easier for me to consume. I’m not sure why, but it is.

I’ll finish this book. I like it so far. It’s just taking me longer than I want to.

What has been finished?

I read quite a bit actually. Not as much as some previous months. But certainly more than I read in June.

A few of those books were hanging over my head from the pervious month. Armada, Gone Girl and Point of Contact. I had started them all in June and only finished them last month.

There are also a few comic books on there. What can I say, I like reading them.

Got a favorite?

I think I enjoyed Gone Girl the most. Even though the story was spoiled early for me, I still enjoyed it.

Armada was a disappointment for me. Ernest Cline’s first book (Ready Player One) was just so good. I was expecting the same thing from this one. But when I’ve talked to other people, they were also disappointed in Armada. It was still a good book, but just not as good as Ready Player One.

Not the best month I’ve had reading, but better than others. At least I’m reading. That was one of my goals for the year.