With my OmarKnows Newsletter you can participate in my quest to find the best things (mainly gadgets). Selected articles from this blog will be published to the newsletter. Newsletters are delivered no more than once a week (Sunday 12pm PST) on weeks where I have written an article. If multiple articles have been published during the week you'll receive all of them in a single email.
You can also visit the Archive of old articles.
As a kid, I always had a Mag Flashlight. They came in big and small, and I remember them always running out. With modern day advances in lighting (LEDs) and Batteries (Lithium) I decided to take a look at my flashlights, including making sure I have an Every Day Carry (EDC) flashlight.
Flashlights are very useful tools. For me it comes down to:
- Home emergency and tasks
- Bedside (so I can avoid turning the lights on)
- Travel (finding stuff in my backpack or luggage)
- Travel (finding my way around an unfamiliar hotel room or house in the dark)
- Photography (light painting for long exposure)
Last year I started testing out some flashlights from a company called Foursevens. They make a bunch of flash lights and below are the ones I've purchased.
I remember when Digital Frames first came out. Everyone thought our houses would be filled with these things. However, after the first batch of frames, they all devolved to cheap pieces of junk, made from left over LCD parts and generally low resolution and aspect ratios that didn't match your photos.
These first generation frames also made it difficult to update photos. Often you had to use a physical memory card and as such the photos never changed.
I have never found a camera bag system I loved more than the bags made by Peak Designs.
Peak Designs got their start on Kickstarter a few years ago, and have run some of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns. They are a fantastic company that makes truly exceptional camera products.
I currently own 3 Peak Design bags (in total I have owned 4).
Since I was a kid, I've always enjoyed a nice pocket knife. About a year ago I was introduced to an Oregon based knife maker, James Brand. The first knife I purchased was The County, which comes in a beautiful walnut and stainless steal, but also in other colors such as white oak and ebony with a black blade.
For Christmas, I got a Joule Sous Vide tool made by local Seattle ChefSteps. I know absolutely nothing about Sous Vide, other than, I've had terrific Sous Vide prepared meats at many local Seattle restaurants. I also read a review by Serious Eats on the Joule, and they are big fans.
I've always been intrigued by "digital ink" or the process of digitizing what I've written. I was a proud owner of an Apple Newton, and since then an original Windows Tablet PC where I would use OneNote to take notes with a pen. Today there are many devices that allow you to do this. I have a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 with its excellent Pen, as well as an iPad Pro 9.7 with the Apple Pencil. None of them really come close to that feeling of writing on real paper, with a real pen.
One of the biggest challenges I've found with "digital writing" is all the stuff that gets in the way. First there is the fact that you are writing on sometime heavy, usually awkward, with a screen that can get hot, and of course apps that are pinging you with notifications. The beauty of a pen and paper is that there is nothing to do really but pay attention and take notes. I find this rather helpful to focus.
In December of last year I picked up the Moleskine Smart Writing Set. This is a special Moleskine notebook and pen. The notebook contains special paper with small codes in it. The Pen is a real pen with real ink, but contains a camera that will record what you write.
I always get nervous about writing about or discussing seemingly simple products that not everyone is immediately interested in. To me, the Apple AirPods represent that category of product.
Yes, they are headphones. Yes they are wireless. Both of those things exist. But they are so much more. They represent a huge technological achievement for Apple (and for us). The miniaturization of batteries, electronics and headphones to look and appear so similar to the wired versions.
For the past two decades I’ve amassed a lot of travel tips and techniques. For context, I travel a decent amount, but I’m not a business road warrior.
About half my travel is with the family, and the other half is for business. I fly about 25,000 - 50,000 miles a year (but in seat). As such it makes sense to be wise about maximizing value, time, etc
If you are short on time, here is the TL;DR (that’s too long didn’t read):
- Signup for Nexus or Global Entry ($50 - $100)
- Signup for Clear ($170)
- Get a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Amex Platinum Card ($450)
- Enroll in all the Hotel / Car programs that come with the card benefits
- Get noise cancelling headphones ($300)
- Get a 4 wheeled spinner bag ($300 - $850)
I love wool. In the last few years I have incorporated more and more wool into our lives. Items such as our Wool Comforter. I now own a number of wool sweaters, and recently some new wool socks from Darn Tough (I like the standard issue mid calf light).
Recently at work I noticed a number of folks have been rocking the new Allbirds wool sneakers. I used to see tons of their ads in my Facebook feed, but never wanted to bother trying them out. Well based on some personal recommendations I decided to take the plunge. It could not be easier to buy them since the Allbirds website uses Apple Pay, making purchase almost too easy.
Two years ago I wrote about a piece of software called You Need a Budget . Back then (the dark ages) this was a desktop app and required complex setups to sync to your phone.
A year ago, they launched a cloud / web version with some key features such as directly connecting to your bank. But they also had a number of launch glitches and bugs, along with missing features.
All these issues have largely been resolved, and so I’m here to highly recommend this product (again). This time with a slick web app, the same great mobile apps, and eve better features.
You might be like “WAAAAAH Budgets? Omar why are you writing about this?”. I often get a lot of “why do you bother budgeting”. Good question.