USB-C Charger Roundup

USB-C is here and I’ve been trying to purge all my USB stuff to get down to just USB-C chargers. The benefits are USB-C chargers can support a much higher (and faster) range of chargers meaning you spend less time charging. I have also managed to find adapters that let me charge my different kind of devices using USB-C like my surface minimizing what I have to travel with.

I own all these charges so you don’t have to. There are many I also have I didn’t bother noting since I think these below are the best for you.

In a follow-up post I will detail how I use my Peak Tech Pouch and the Magpul Daka pouches to organize all this stuff for me and the family.

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Joule Sous Vide

I have been using a Joule Sous Vide for a few years now and forgot I never reviewed it despite recommending it in my Holiday Newsletter.  

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Chances are you have heard of Sous Vide. It’s a technique of slowly cooking food in water. There are numerous advantages to this. 

My main use for this is cooking frozen meat. We have purchased our meat from a company called Butcher Box. They deliver grass fed meat in dry ice and from there you place in your freezer. When you are ready to have steak you place the frozen steak in a vacuum sealed bag and then place in a container with the Joule for about 2 hours. Time depends a lot on the thickness of the steak. 

During that time the meat reaches 129 or 133 degrees which is medium-rare to medium. 

Then I take the meat out of the bag and finish on my Blu Skillet Cast Iron pans that are smoking hot and only have butter and some oil in them. 

The end result is what you eat in a restaurant. Perfectly cooked meat and finished / seared. 

Since cooking meat this way I have not used my grill. It just sits unused now. I cannot compare the results of Sous Vide to grilling and the benefits is doing 100% of this in my kitchen. The results are fantastically consistent.  

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For hard to cook pieces such as bone in cuts or 1 inch or more cuts this technique works great. This photo below are 1.5 inch bone in rib eyes. 

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There are many kinds of Sous Vide machines. I recommend the Joule because

  • ChefSteps - the company that makes Joule is Seattle based and makes fantastic educational apps and courses
  • The Joule software is 100% controlled via an App with built in guides and recipes 
  • They have great integration with Alexa

 Buy Now - Joule 

There are some accessories I have used with my Joule  

  • Joule big clamp for plastic containers  
  • Cooking containers. 12qt for every day and 18qt for large items.  
  • FoodSaver Vacuum sealed bags. I don’t love this device though. Doesn’t spark joy. 
  • Grape seed oil spray. Grape seed has a much higher smoke point than olive oil and as such is a great product to use with a carbon steel pan. 
  • Joule Ready sauces which make cooking easy 

The Joule is awesome. Serious Eats has a great review if you want to learn more.  

Miele Vacuums

Every household has a Vacuum cleaner and the other day my sister asked me what kind to get to replace her Dyson. I love Dyson products, but after reading this Wirecutter article I replaced our Dyson with a Miele Vacuum Cleaner.

I always though “bagless” was better but have since decided it’s not. The Miele has a Hepa filter meaning it is putting filtered air back into your house and trapping 100% of muck in a bag that you only need to empty or replace every few months (no pets). We have had ours for over a year now and are using the same original box of 4 bags that came with it.

Wirecutter recommend the Compact C2 Electro+ which is really nice. Miele makes many many other models and the main differences are the features (such as attachments) and other bells and whistles - but pretty much they all have the same mechanism.

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Blunt Umbrellas

I always ask myself - “does this spark joy” - if you read or follow Marie Kondo then you know this is core to her philosophy.

I try and apply this to most of what I own - including - yes - my umbrellas. Up till now I generally did not think of them and when I did, disliked them. As such I looked to my friend Kelsi who loves her Blunt Umbrella and decided to replace our mismatch of umbrellas.

Blunt umbrellas are quite cool. They are not built like a regular umbrella. They come in many shapes and sizes.

They are the “Away Luggage” of the Umbrella world.

We chose to get some of the Metro umbrellas as well as the Classic umbrellas. I’m thinking about two of the golf umbrellas for attending to the kid’s soccer games in the fall and spring.

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Away Luggage

Good luggage doesn’t need to be expensive. I feel that you should have some decent carry on and checked luggage.

However, you can spend a lot of money on luggage - and like anything - meet any budget.

My personal favorite luggage are the Rimowa Aluminum luggage. They are incredible bags. German engineering but outside the price range of most people. I love the black aluminum bags and have them in their carry-on size (36L) and checked luggage (68L). Their hybrid luggage is polycarbonate but lacks zippers and is also a great choice.

But I’m here to write about Away Luggage. For the money, I don’t think you will find luggage as good as theirs. They make their bags in polycarbonate and aluminum (like Rimowa) but cost a third as much. They also have some very innovative features such as a batter that is built into their carry on bags and can be removed as well.

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Peak Design Travel Line - Wash and Tech Pouch

I’ve written before about my love for Peak Designs bags and products. My current Peak Design bag lineup includes

Black 5L Sling - this is what I use when I’m shooting with my Leica camera or as an accessory bag for flying and family vacations to store a water bottle, battery.

Black 10L Sling - large enough for my MacBook, camera, 2 lenses I travel a lot with this bag.

Black Everyday Backpack 20L - this is for trips where I’m bringing most (but not all) of my camera gear, one or two laptops, headphones, Nintendo etc

Peak recently launched a new “travel” line that starts with the Travel Backpack 45L. This is an incredible bag but it’s large and designed as a primary bag for travel OR a back that I use for photography trips where I am brining 2 bodies, 4-5 lenses, iPad, and all the necessities for a flight.

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Surface Headphones

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A year ago I wrote about the Bowers & Wilkins PX noise cancelling headphones. I have put a hundred thousand miles on these things flying this past year. They continue to be a great product.

People ask me why the B&Ws over the Bose which tend to be the “gold standard” for these situations. There are a few reasons for this… 1. The B&W headphones has better features, 2. I am done purchasing products that charge using micro-USB. That’s really it - I think the Bose are great and if you have them keep using them.

However, I’m here to write about the Surface Headphones - my new pick and recommendation for travel. I prefer them over the B&W for a few reasons.

  • Like the B&W they are USB-C for charging

  • Like the Bose they have audible alerts to tell you information such as battery life and pairing status

  • They have touch controls and physical dials to control volume and the amount of noise cancellation - which works amazingly well. This is probably the best differentiating feature. The B&W uses buttons.

  • They support the ‘assistant’ on your device - be it Siri, Google or Cortana

  • They don’t require an “app” like the B&W to control basic settings such as how much ambient noise to let in

  • They pause when you take them off and resume when you put them back on

  • They can pair to two devices at the same time - a feature the Bose do well and the B&W’s claim that they do - but rarely work.

My main issues with the B&W were that after long periods of wear they are uncomfortable on the top of my head where the band is. The Surface headphones have more padding here. The B&Ws have a wonderful premium feel to them though.

The second issue I had is that whenever I switched devices between iPad or iPhone I had to manually connect (a problem frankly I also have with the AirPods). The Surface Headphones just connect to both and you can even stream audio content from both at the same time.

The Surface Headphones are not perfect. They don’t pack up as compact as the Bose (but similar to B&W). They are gray and not black - I’ll be honest and say that I love black and the new Surface Pro 6 and Laptop 2 are stunning in black. Not space gray or space black - actual black.

I’ve had some minor problems with maintaining pairing with two device - mainly when I get up from my start on a plane and go to the restroom and return - but hopefullly these will be addressed in a firmware update.

The Surface headphones command a premium price at $350 but I’ve seen them come down to $300 on Amazon. I have also heard great things about the new Sony headphones - but I don’t have a pair to try and frankly I’m a bit skeptical.

I’m biased in that I work at Microsoft but I feel that the hardware we are making is some of the best out there and the headphones represent a great first entry into this market.

If you are looking for a new laptop this year I can enthusiastically reccomend the Surface Laptop 2 or Surface Pro 6 if you want a hybrid. Avoid the Surface Book 2 - too heavy. If you have kids, the Surface Go’s can’t be beat - both our kids have them.

If you are looking for headphones this year - give the Surface Headphones a try.

 Buy Now