Author Archives: Justin Thorp

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Using My iPhone 6 As A Pedometer via Jawbone UP

I’m a big fan of quantified self and using data to help me understand my personal behaviors, especially health data and behaviors. While I’m not in horrible shape, I’m not in the best shape and constantly working to develop better behaviors.

I played with a lot of the fitness band/pedometers. I bought the Nike Fuelband back in 2012. Earlier this year, I experimented with the Fitbit. Both were neat but… After a while I stopped looking at the data, which means the data especially stopped having any meaningful impact on my life, which means I’d barely remember to charge it.

When I got my iPhone 6, it came with the capability to be a pedometer by itself. So I started using that with the Jawbone UP app. It’s worked really well.

While its not going to be as good as a wearable device that’s always on me, using the Jawbone UP iPhone app gets close enough where it can give me an indication of how active I’ve been. I do purposefully try and take my phone with me wherever I go so I can get the best data possible. I can also log my sleep and what I’m eating.

Plus the iPhone has the benefit of being a multi purpose device. I use it for tracking more than just tracking my steps. So I’m not going to set it aside like I would the wearables because it wasn’t providing enough value.

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Twitter Lists Have Become My Favorite Twitter Feature

One of the most underrated features on Twitter has also quickly become one of my favorite. It’s Twitter Lists.

Twitter Lists is a way to stick different Twitter accounts into groups and then see all their posts in a dedicated feed. This is great if you have a group of accounts that all tweet about a similar topic and that you’d wanna see what they’re saying together.

For example, I have a Twitter List for people that tweet about St Louis stuff. This includes news outlets, sports teams, restaurants, neighborhoods, politicians and more. Seeing all their tweets together gives me a picture of what’s happening in the city. It’s given me great ideas for weekend adventures with the family.

Unfortunately, during the simplification of Twitter in order to make it something that can garner more mass appeal, Twitter Lists has become a pretty buried feature. But it’s worth seeking out.  You can find them when you click over to your profile when you’re signed in.

I have other Twitter Lists like…

There’s one called VIP. It’s tweets that I absolutely can’t miss. I wanna read every single one. It’s family, close friends, and co-workers. This lists and its members is obviously private.

There’s my STL Tech list of people in the St Louis tech and startup community.

There’s my Food list. It’s famous chefs and food media sites that I love to follow. Food is one of my passions. :-)

I need to build out a few more. They’re that useful.

Do you use, follow, or create Twitter Lists?

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Innovation in Coffee Brewing

If you know me, you know that I’m always on the hunt for the best cup of coffee. Much to my wife’s chagrin, I’ve collected six different methods for brewing coffee and have my morning coffee routine down to a science.

On Product Hunt the other day, there were two coffee brewing products. I love that people are looking at how they can innovate around the brewing process. It’s going to continue to make great coffee something that’s accessible to more people.

Nomad is a portable hand powered espresso maker.

The acaia pearl is a scale that hooks up to your iPad and will walk you through each step of the process to do a pour over.

Do you have any coffee gadgets?

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Watching TV After Its Been Aired

Both Lauren and I enjoy certain TV shows, as a way to unwind after a busy day. The fall has become a favorite time of year because that’s when the new shows come out.

But I was thinking about how we consume television. Last year when we lived in Las Vegas we opted to not get cable and so we watched everything online via Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Instant Video. It worked really well. Our lives were our lives and it often didn’t coincide with live TV schedules. We could watch tv on our terms.

Now living in St. Louis, it was actually cheaper to have cable TV plus Internet over just Internet. We still mostly watch tv after the fact, either through the DVR or the online video apps that I mentioned before.

Especially now that we have a kid, we usually get time to watch one tv show a night, after the kid’s evening rituals.  We’re then both zonked and ready to pass out. So we’re especially watching tv after the fact.

It’s disappointing to miss out on live TV though. TV networks have been really getting behind using Twitter. Tv shows have official hash tags for fans to talk about what’s happening. Plus the actual stars from the show jump into the mix. When you’re not watching the show when it aires, it feels like you’re missing out on something.

It’s interesting to see how out consumption patterns are changing. Despite what the networks throw out, I have the feeling that people will continue to move towards watching tv when it’s ideal for them.

How & when do you watch tv?

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St Louis-Based Pint Size Bakery’s Salted Caramel Croissants

There’s this adorable little bakery in my neighborhood called Pint Size Bakery. We’ve been there a number of times for various bake goods and they’re all delicious.

If you go online and look up the shop, every says you have to try their salted caramel croissants. So the last time I was in there, I asked and they only make them on Saturday mornings. They usually come out at 10am and there’s a line. These are the St Louis equivalent of the cronut.

I was intrigued. So we came this morning to kick off Saturday morning errands. And yes, there was a line. So we waited.

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I get up the counter and I asked for the salted caramel croissants. It had sounded like they may have been out and I was too late. I was in luck. I got the last two. Yes!!!!!

So… My mini review: they are incredible. They’re absolutely worth waiting in line for. There’s the salty with sweet. They’re flaky and gooey. There’s definitely a level of pastry complexity that you’re not going to get from your average baked good.

This place is an example of what I love about St Louis. There’s so many different little independent shops and business owners doing great work all over the city. It’s been a blast to discover and get to know them as Lauren and I explore.

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Podcasts I Listen To

There was an interesting article in the Washington Post a few days ago about how podcasts were becoming more popular again and how plenty were actually becoming profitable businesses.

I’m a huge fan of podcasts, especially audio podcasts. I love being able to take typical mundane tasks like driving, exercising or cleaning, and flip on a podcast. It turns that boring task into something where I’m engaging my brain.

I was thinking about the podcasts that I listen to. First and foremost there’s the gold standard of podcasts and that’s the work that’s done by Leo Laporte and the TWiT Network.

I have been listening to Leo Laporte’s This Week in Tech Podcast since it was called Revenge of the Screensavers. It’s just Leo and his friends talking about hot topics related to the tech industry. It comes out every Monday.

His network has produced a number of other shows which have become staples for me. There’s MacBreak Weekly which comes out in Wednesday’s. There’s This Week in Google which comes out on Thursday’s.

Throughout the years I’ve tried a number of other podcasts. Now I’m also listening to the Product Hunt podcast, Alton Brown Cast, and Andreessen Horowitz podcast.

Do you listen to podcasts? If so which?

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Tips for Flying/Traveling with a Baby

So my wife and I just took a trip to Washington, DC for the week and we took our 3 month old, Miles, with us. It was definitely a daunting notion to travel with a baby but it ended up working out really well. Thought I’d share some of my tips & observations.

  • Give yourself extra time.  Get to the airport an extra hour before you usually would.
  • We got a structured baby carrier and used that to carry the baby through security and on to the airplane.  It worked really well.
  • If you can time feedings, time it so the baby is going to sleep for as much of the flight as possible.
  • If the kid is going to be awake, feed him or put a binky in his mouth during take off and landing to prevent ear popping.
  • Much like a roll away bed, lots of hotels will provide you with a crib for your room.
  • Unlike at home, the crib and the bed were in the same room at the hotel. So we used white noise to help give is cover as we moved about a room.
  • When putting a car seat for the kid into the rental car, it felt more secure to lock it in with a seat belt than the actual car seat base. So bringing the car seat base wasn’t an issue.

What tips would you give?