.gg

I just finished migrating this site to my fancy new domain, brad.gg, which I plan on using from now on. I set up a 301 redirect on the old domain, so hopefully nothing is broken. Please let me know if you notice anything funky!

I’ve always wanted to grab my first name as a domain, but with a generic name like Brad, the odds of finding it on a good TLD have always been grim.

.gg is a country code for the island of Guernsey, but it’s open to everyone and doesn’t have any weird requirements—so when I saw that brad.gg was available, I had to have it.

How To Fix WordPress Image Alignment & Text Wrap Problems On Mobile

Left- and right-aligned images look beautiful on desktop browsers, but sometimes with responsive WordPress themes you end up with something like this:

Yuck. Because of the skinny portrait-style image, the text is wrapping improperly on mobile, and it looks like a mess. Very frustrating, but with a couple of lines of CSS, we can clear this right up.

The approach I’ve found most effective is to automatically center your left- and right-aligned images on smaller screens. To do this, open up the stylesheet for your child theme, or the Custom CSS section of the theme Customizer, and drop in the following code:

@media only screen and (max-width: 600px) {
	figure.alignleft, img.alignleft, figure.alignright, img.alignright {
	float:none;
	display:block;
	margin-left:auto;
	margin-right:auto;
    }
}

The logic here is simple: on screens with a width less than 600 pixels, images aligned to the right or left (via WordPress’s default style classes) will be centered via float:none, margin-left:auto, and margin-right:auto. (Feel free to modify the max width to suit your needs.)

The result? The image in the example above now appears centered on smartphones, but still perfectly right-aligned on larger screens:

Much better!

The Entry-Level Microphone That Grows With You

Back in 2013 when I started hosting VentureBreak Weekly, I picked up the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB microphone. Five years and hundreds of hours of audio later, it remains one of my favorite pieces of tech.

On the surface, the ATR2100 is very much an entry-level mic: the price is low (currently $64 on Amazon), and it’s USB-powered, making it perfect for new podcasters who don’t have big fancy mixing boards. But it also features an analog XLR output, meaning it works just as well with professional-grade gear.

And here’s the important thing: the sound is phenomenal. You could easily pit it against something like the Shure SM7B—and while it’s not quite in that league, you’d never know by the sound that you were dealing with a sub-$100 microphone.

I’ve done a lot of vocal recordings over the last few years, and I’ve never really felt compelled to go beyond my ATR2100. As long as you’ve got a pop filter and don’t mind doing a bit of basic post-production, the ATR2100 can get the job done reliably for many years to come.

Simplifying My Digital Life

One of the downsides of instant, frictionless communication is that everyone and everything is constantly in your face, which leads to reduced productivity and a sense of general sluggishness.

For example, if I’ve got a set of tasks I need to accomplish today, I’d like to focus on those. But it’s really easy for emails, messages, tweets, and other random notifications to get in the way.

Every time you pull out your phone to respond to a message or read a reply or DM on Twitter, you’re allowing other people to manipulate your schedule at will. You’re also robbing yourself of the coveted mental state of flow.

I’ve recently made some changes to deal with this, and as a result I’ve seen a significant increase in my productivity and a greater command of my time.

Social Media Notifications: Off

Social media is the biggest uninvited time-suck in the world. They lure you in with a push notification, hook you with the algorithmically sorted timeline, and before you know it you’ve spent an hour in this damn app you didn’t even plan to open.

The solution? Turn ’em off.

I’ve completely disabled push notifications for the three major social networks—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—and the result is pure serenity.

I used to get bombarded with notifications all day every day, mostly from these three apps. So-and-so liked your post! So-and-so mentioned you! And Twitter’s amazing new feature that everyone totally wanted: So-and-so and So-and-so are tweeting about #SomeStupidFuckingThing.

These notifications are not useful to me. They’re disruptive.

Now, when I want to know what’s happening on Facebook, I’ll open Facebook. When I want to know who’s been liking my tweets or sliding into my DMs, I’ll open Twitter.

Spark Email

Spark (for iOS and Mac) may be the best email app I’ve used this decade. It’s reminiscent of the now-defunct Mailbox in that it allows you to “snooze” messages and deal with them later. Great feature, but not the main attraction.

You see, Spark is smart. It automatically sorts your emails into different visual chunks in its Smart Inbox view. You’ve got newsletters, notifications, personal emails, etc.—and they show up in groups of three, which you can easily dismiss in bulk to plow through your inbox like a pro.

Even better, Spark knows what matters, and it only sends you notifications about important email. Never again will a stupid newsletter buzz my Apple Watch while I’m eating dinner.

Speaking of which…

Unsubscribe!!!

I used to be on hundreds of email lists, some of which I’d opted into, others I was added to by inconsiderate PR people. But I digress…

I decided that after years of struggling with my nightmare of an inbox, it was time to take control. So instead of deleting unwanted newsletters, I made it a habit to open each of them, as they came in, and click the unsubscribe link. Every. Single. One.

I spent about two weeks doing this, and while I still see occasional list emails, I’ve trimmed things down to the point where I can kind of breathe again.

Take Back Your Life

There are three things I know for sure:

  • Technology should be a tool to make my life happier and more productive.
  • Notifications should serve up useful, timely information that matters to me.
  • The time I spend with digital media should always be conscious and intentional.

When these expectations aren’t met, it’s time to simplify.

100% Apple

It occurred to me today that I am now using Apple products for all of my primary work and entertainment devices: an iPhone 7 Plus, an iPad Mini, an Apple Watch, AirPods, two Apple TVs, and now, a 15″ MacBook Pro.

There’s something to be said for seamless integration between all of your devices. It really does just work.