Mark and Nathalie – Engineers

Mark and Nathalie are the engineers behind Mac apps DragonDrop and Timebar – which they built together and the proceeds help pay for their wedding.  Mark writes a bit, Nathalie photographs this and that, and these are their good things.

Good things to read.

Nathalie is the major reader in this household, so we’re leaving this in her capable hands.

An Everlasting Meal, by Tamar Adler.  Never would I have imagined a whole chapter about the humblest legume, the bean, could transfix me the way hers did. Tamar takes everyday food experiences (like salting your pasta water) and turns them into deep thoughts: “All ingredients needs salt. […] We seem, too, to fear that we are failures at being tender and springy if we need to be seasoned. It’s not so: it doesn’t reflect badly on pea or person that either needs help to be most itself.” Truth.

Foodspin, by Albert Burneko.  On the other end of the food writing spectrum, I have to give a shout-out to my food brother from another mother, Albert Burneko of Foodspin. As often as I want to lovingly stir a pot of beans and reflect on my tender self, his alternative food blog speaks to another side of my personality. (The side that wants my face karate-chopped off by a Caesar salad.)

Discworld, by Terry Pratchett.   And finally, some fiction. Terry Pratchett has created a universe of people, places, and things to entertain and delight you. After a few years of scoffing at what I thought was clearly something silly meant for bored nerds who forget books to take on the plane (seriously, how many of his books are packed on airport bookshop shelves?), I started with Guards! Guards! and have been hooked ever since. Terry Pratchett made something beautiful for the world and I encourage you to enjoy it.

Good things to watch.

Beauty Is Embarrassing.  We’re suckers for interesting documentaries. Most recently, we really enjoyed Beauty Is Embarrassing, which a documentary about the artist Wayne White. Haven’t heard of him? Surely you’ve seen his work, because he was behind the visual design of an amazing amount of pop culture — everything from Pee-wee’s Playhouse to the music video for “Tonight, Tonight” by the Smashing Pumpkins. It’s astonishing to learn that so many things we love all came from one person’s imagination. He’s still creating wonderful things, and best of all, is a humble, interesting person who inspires us to do pursue our dreams. Sappy, but true — watch this.

Columbo.  Columbo is another favorite. Peter Falk does a bang-up job of taking what could easily have lapsed into a tired old schtick in another actor’s hands (the grubby and bumbling yet remarkably perceptive detective) and wrings out pure gold. There is also a veritable who’s who of 70s/80s/90s actors co-starring as the villains — Janet Leigh, Leonard Nimo, Dick Van Dyke, even Johnny Cash. One of the early episodes was even directed by Steven Spielberg. Delightful.

How It’s Made.  OK, this is a show — stay with us here — about how everyday things are manufactured. Despite the mundanity of the subject matter, it’s actually incredibly fascinating. Do a quick search for it on YouTube if you don’t believe us — before you know it, you’ll be learning about the ins-and-outs of injection molding, electric arc welding, plastic extrusion, and rubber vulcanization.

Note: due to its soothing nature, we highly recommend watching this show right before bed.

Good things to use.

Here are two app recommendations from Mark, plus something to drink while trying them.

Aeropress.    Do you enjoy coffee? Of course you do; this is the internet, after all. We received an Aeropress as a wedding gift, and it’s completely changed my weekend coffee routine. We used to use a French press (which still a lovely way to make coffee), but the Aeropress is wonderful in all of the ways that the French press isn’t: it’s very fast, and it’s incredibly easy to clean. If you’re a barely functional zombie in the morning like I am, you will surely appreciate both of those qualities.

Oh, and it also has the classic hallmark of *not* being a fad: they’re incredibly inexpensive (around $30). Give one a whirl.

BBEdit.  BBEdit is a text editor for the Macintosh, but that understates it a bit. If you work with text much at all — and most especially if you work with text professionally — you owe it to yourself to find a powerful text editor that helps you get your job done, but stays out of your way. BBEdit really fits the bill for me.

It’s been in continuous development for more than two decades years — in fact, if it was a person, you could take it out for a drink. I use BBEdit to do my job, and it’s amazing to contemplate the fact that I was nine years old when it first came out. I fully expect to still be using it 20 years from now.

1Password.  Despite the name, this handy app is more than a password manager — I keep my life in here. It has all of my user names and passwords, sure, but it also has copies of my driver’s license, passport, SSL certificates, and much more. I can’t imagine what I would do without a safe place to keep the minutiae of my life. It’s literally the second piece of software I install on a Mac (after Dropbox, since that’s where I keep my 1Password database).

1Password is available on all of the major platforms (iOS, Mac, Windows, Android) and even has a handy HTML-based fallback in case of a dire situation. As an added bonus, the company is headquartered in Mark’s home-and-native land, and has a great blog discussing interesting security topics.

You can trust your life to this software.

Connect with Mark, @ShinyPB and Nathalie, @Anathemalie on Twitter.

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