Workflow…. another great iOS automation tool

Workflow…. another great iOS automation tool

If you have been following along, you may have read my blog about IFTTT.  It is a great little automation tool that lets you hook one activity to another (IE, when I change my Facebook profile photo, set my Twitter profile photo to match).  I use it a lot, but I have also found it leaving my wanting a bit.  Sometimes I want to do a few things, I want to trigger a chain of events, etc.  Then I came across Workflow.

Workflow is a neat little app that lets you create workflows or a chain of events you want to run.  You create them, and then you trigger them using a button in the app, using an action extension, a today widget, or even using the companion app on your Apple Watch.  It has a bit of a learning curve, but it allows you to do complex workflows with multiple steps using multiple apps.  My only knock in it is that it can be a bit glitchy and I don’t like how it looks while it is executing a workflow.  I wish you could make the screen a little more user friendly…. run the actions in the background rather than watching it progress.  Having said that, I can overlook those two drawbacks because it is such a powerful little application.

I have written a couple workflows that I use quite often.  The first is my “Send Location” workflow.  When you run this handy little workflow, it starts by asking what kind of location you want want (Navigon, Google Maps, Apple Map, or text Lat,Long).  You then enter a title for the location you are (My Work, Home, Record Store).  It then pops open the camera for you to take a picture.  After taking the photo and confirming, it takes all the information you entered and creates a new txt message with that picture and URL, ready for you to enter a recipient and send.  The person that received the message will get that link to the exact coordinated you are at with a picture of where you are.  I use this often when I want to explain where I am or how to get to me.  The person can just open that link and it will give them directions to where I am and a picture to know what to look for when they arrive.  Powerful stuff right?

Another great one I use is for making a QR code to a web address.  This on is very simple.  When I’m in safari and I want to make a QR code to the address I’m visiting, I run this extension.  It takes the web address, asks for a dimension, and then creates an email with the created QR code as an attachment.  Very handy for making quick QR codes on the fly.

I’m on a few web forums, that use some standard codes for images.  It I want to upload a few pictures to a post, this is a great little utility.  This lets me pick a photo (or photos) from my phone, uploads to a cloud space at a manageable size, and then copies the code for use in the forum to display those pictures in the post.  Super handy.

And lastly, if you have ever shared a photo on Instagram to Twitter you will notice it doesn’t actually share the picture, but a link to your Instagram URL.  That bugs me.  So I made this little utility to take the last photo shared on your Instagram account, and create a twitter post with that picture (and description) from your Instagram feed.  Pretty handy.

So maybe these few workflows will get your creative juices flowing for things you might want to automate.  Or maybe you just want to try the workflows I have created.  I have included them below for you to import if you like.  Give them a try, and let me know if they are useful for you.

All for now -J

Make QR Code

Share Photos On Forum

Instagram to Twitter

Send Location

Wet Shaving…. One Month in

Wet Shaving…. One Month in

First off, Happy Birthday to my lovely wife.  I’m a pretty lucky guy, still not quite sure how I won her over.  She is an amazing mom, wife, friend and person.  She spoils me, puts up with me, encourages my passions and puts up with my sh*t.  Not a day goes by where I don’t think about how lucky I am.

So, I’m a month in to my wet shave journey and I’m really getting in to it.   Since getting my initial kit from Shave Valet I have steadily added to my gear.  Knowing that during my travels I would have the most time to enjoy a wet shave, I wanted to build a travel kit to take with me.  I hopped on Etsy and found FrugalShave.  He does 3D printed wet shave gear.  I picked up a travel tin (about the size of an altoids tin) that holds my razor and a few blades.  I also grabbed a travel brush with case and a blade dryer to keep the sharps away from Cole.  They were great additions, I highly recommend checking him out.

Then I joined a Facebook group called the Canadian Wet-Shavers.  It is a great group of enthusiastic wet shavers across the country.  Quite often people will post a Shave of the Day with the soap/blade/razor/pre-shave/-post-shave.  There are lots of tips and great information to be found.  Members are always posting items for sale and trade.  There I picked up another razor (Rockwell 6c with multi plates for adjustable shave) so I could leave my RazoRock 3 piece open comb in the travel case.  I also have grabbed a few new soaps, which is already becoming a bit of a problem 😛

That is also part of the fun, there are TONNES of artisan shave products available.  Unique scents and product lines that will cover ever taste and mood.  So far some of my favs are Proraso Green (cooling old school cream), RazoRock Emperor (a cool manly scent), RazoRock Classic (sweet almond/marzipan),  Italian Barber Amici (Amber/GrapeFruit) , and Henri et Victoria Cognac and Cuban Cigars (think Poker night with the boys).  The soaps stick with you for the shave and often they have a matching aftershave that will linger a bit longer.

And lastly, to add to my collection, my lovely wife made me a few lather bowls (photos also by my lovely wife at finelite.ca).  These are awesome for working up that lather with your brush.  They also look fantastic.  Check out her fantastic pottery work.  Told you I was a lucky husband 🙂

If this looks interesting to you, check out Shave Valet and ask him about it.  Shahan is fantastic and will tell you everything you need to know to get started.  In fact, tonight he is having another free intro class, a great opportunity to get you started.  And if you live in Saskatoon, he will deliver your purchases right to you.  Talk about customer service!

We are planning a meet up soon to have a beverage, talk shaving, and probably trade some goodies.  Get started today and maybe you could join us!

Happy Shaving – J

 

My fitness playlist #100playlistchallenge

My fitness playlist #100playlistchallenge

If you have been following my social feed, you will have noticed I joined a new gym recently (Anytime Fitness in Warman). I have made of a habit of checking in on Facebook when I hit the gym and post the off selfie when I’m putting in the work. Sorry if that fills up your feed, but for me, it helps keep me motivated.

Previously I was seeing a personal trainer but circumstances changed a bit so I was looking for a different challenge. This has been my first gym membership. I figured I’d give it a go solo for a while until my busy summer schedule is done and then I would decide if I wanted to take up personal training or group training at the gym. So far I’m really enjoying it. The gym is clean, not too busy (depending on the time of day) and the staff is fantastic. It is very affordable and an added perk is that I can go to this gym or any other anytime fitness location 24/7. I have a bit of a routine now where I hit the treadmill for half a session and then either the free weights or the machines for the other half. The staff even gave me a walk through of all the equipment to show me how everything works.

On of the programs they have at the gym to keep you motivated is the 100 workout challenge. Every time you hit the gym you mark in the book and at certain levels you get some prizing. I starting marking that as well, with my goal deadline of spring next year.

The other thing that gets me going in the gym is music. I need to have my headphones on when I’m working out. As I mentioned previously, I’m a Spotify guy, so I am always browsing and trying new playlists to keep my moving in the gym. My music tastes are all over the map, so it gave me an idea. I’m going to build myself a great workout playlist as I go with my 100 workout challenge. Each workout, when I find that one song that got me over the hump, I’m going to add it to my playlist. At the end of my 100 workout challenge, I’m going to have a playlist full of songs that will be a perfect workout soundtrack for me. I’m calling this my #100playlistchallenge.

Rather than posting every time I add a new song, I have made my playlist public. Click the image below or take a picture with your Spotify app and you can follow my progress as I add new tunes. And if you build your own playlist that you want to share, drop me a line and I will add it to my rotation. And if you happen to see me in Anytime Fitness, make sure to say hello.

All for now,
J

The Old School Shave Experience

The Old School Shave Experience

I’ve always been interested in the *old school shave*.  I’m pretty sure I stumbled across a safety razor at my grandparents when I was young and it stuck with me.  I remember Dad having old westerns on and the hero would bring out a blade/strap and get to work.  Recently the warm towel shave has seen a bit of a renaissance with salons, even further sparking my interest.

A little over a year ago, my wife sent me for a warm towel shave as a gift.  It was at a reputable shop, with very experienced staff in the craft.  (be very choosy about whom you let shave your face or you risk a very uncomfortable experience that may ruin you on the art)  It was a nice experience, a pretty decent shave, although not the best-shave-ever experience I was expecting.  It was nice to have a bit of manly pampering.  But at the cost, it sure wasn’t something I was going to be able to do regularly, so I continue on, using the trusty Shick Quatro and thinking about that old school experience.

Fast forward to a year later, and I came across a post on my social feed from Shave Valet.  He was offering an intro to Wet Shaving class.  Here was my chance to delve a little deeper into the old school shave.  I signed up and made my way to the class.  There I was greeted my Shahan, the mastermind behind shavevalet.ca.  Now here is a guy that is passionate about the wet shave experience.  If there was anything you wanted to know about the old school wet shave, Shahan is your guy.  Unfortunately for him he had a few no shows that evening, but for me, I got my own individual training class.  It was great, I learned about the history, the benefits, the gear, the experience…. and even the community.  Yes there is a very loyal wet shaving community that is growing all the time.

I got to see all his fantastic products.  He sources only great gear that he has tried, experienced, and would stand behind.  His collection of artisan shave soaps is pretty stunning.  I can see how this could become a problem 🙂  After absolutely zero sales pressure (Shahan is just genuinely happy to share his passion and his side hustle), I started eyeing up the gear that would be mine.  Shahan has curated a couple of great starter kits, everything you need to get started; razor, blades, brush, soap, alum and blade bank, all for a great price.  He even let me swap out a couple things I wanted to upgrade by paying the difference.  I opted for his Boar Shave Kit ($50) which included 40 assorted blades, a boar hair brush, alum stick, blade blank, an Italian Barber Amici shave soap and I paid a couple bucks extra to upgrade to a RazoRock 3 piece open comb razor safety razor.  I also added a styptic pencil (for any knicks) and a chrome brush/razor stand.  I thanked him for his time and was on my way.

That weekend, I put the time aside to have my first old school shave.  It was great.  The experience of whipping up a great lather in the bowl, using a brush to apply to making that first pass, I was hooked.  It instantly made me think of my Grandpa Siwy the barber, wishing I had a chance to share the experience with him before he passed.  It has me thinking about passing this on to my son when that time comes.  Now I would be lying if I said it was the best shave I ever had.  I suffered a few knicks and a bit of razor burn along the way.  But I was undeterred.  I knew that would be gone with experience.  And I was right.  I’m now several shaves in and I’m pretty much done with the knicks.  I am better in tune with the growth pattern of my face and am aware of the bad habits I developed with the cartridge razor I was using.  With that knowledge, I now experience the best shaves ever.

It is still more time consuming than my work day ritual allows.  I’m getting quicker every go, but I’m still using the cartridge razor on work days and saving the luxury experience for the weekends.  I know there will be a tipping point when I completely make the switch.  But until then I’m just enjoying the experience and doing all I can to resist matching Shahan with his awesome collection of supplies.  I already have a bit of a favourite when it comes to blades and I’m already thinking of picking up some more soap and gear to take with me on the road.  I still want to get a straight razor/strap and give that a try next.  That seems a bit less intimidating now.

If you are interested in the old school shave, check out shavevalet.ca.  Drop Shahan a line, he will gladly answer any questions you have.  If he has a class open up, sign up and attend.  You won’t be disappointed.  And if you are lucky enough to be in Saskatoon, he will even deliver your supplies to you!  Maybe you too can share the experience with your Dad/Grandpa and pass it on to your future generations.

All for now,

Jared

PS – my attempt at photos didn’t do the product justice, so again I enlisted the help of my wife Erin from finelite.ca to photograph for me.  All the credit goes to her for the great product shots.

PPS – she is also a potter in her spare time and I have commissioned my own custom lather bowl.  I’ll post an update when it is complete.

Bat Demo Night

Bat Demo Night

Tonight I got a chance to demo a few bats and shake a bit of the off-season rust off.  Al Anderson’s Source For Sports had a bunch of the 2017 line of bats on for demo at Going Yard Baseball Warehouse.  This was my first visit to the complex, which was a nice place to work in the off-season.

First off, I was disappointed there were no Demarini demos.  Anyone that has played ball with me knows I have been a faithful Demarini guy for quite a few years, probably one of the few left.  I can’t say I was surprised at the lack of Demarini, they seem to have abandoned Canada in the marketing plan.  No one swings them, no one demos them, they have little presence out there.  To be honest, my opinion of last year’s lineup was that they opted for style over substance, with the custom line of products.  The hype has been good on the new line, but I’ve never been one to follow the hype.  Mizuno was also noticeably absent.

There weren’t many people demoing tonight, so I got to swing a LOT of bats.  It was nice as I got to compare them all.  I wish I had one of my Demarini there so I could compare against what I’m currently gaming, bit I did get a good feel for what I liked and what I didn’t.  Pictured is what I swung.  They are ordered left to right in the order I would rank them, favorite to least favorite.  Much to my surprise, a Super Z was my top pick.  I went back to it a few times as I was pretty surprised about that since I hated the Z’s in the past.  My least favorite was the Easton Brett Helmer.  It had horrible feedback for me and I could rarely hit the sweet spot.

Since I swung so many, I cant really do an in depth review, but here are my quick thoughts on each.

27oz Super Z End Loaded – wow, I was impressed.  This felt great, by far the best feeling off the barrel, nice and crisp.  I still don’t like the factory taper (an easy fix by regripping) and the bat knob feels a bit clunky compared to other brands, but this was easily my favorite of the night.  I’d love to demo this guy outside on a field to gauge distance, I could be convinced to add one to the bag.

27oz Freak 30 – I went in thinking it would be a toss up between this and the Jeff Hall legit as the make up resembled what I’m swinging now.  It felt great.  I hit this one consistently well.  I think you will see this one on the field a lot this year.

27.5 Worth Legit Jeff Hall – I didn’t hit this one as consistently as the Freak 30, but a did get a few in the sweet spot that seemed to scream.  This one could also be a contender get me to switch

27oz Worth Legit BJ Fulk – a bigger sweet spot than the Jeff Hall so I hit it more consistently, but I didn’t love the weighting.  I would say it was more of a mid load than an end load.

27oz Miken Freak Platinum Balanced – felt really nice, similar to the Freak 30 on the barrel, but I didn’t like the feel of the larger barrel.

27oz Miken DC41 – I got good results but I didn’t like how it swung.  It felt like swing a sledgehammer.  Just not for me.

27oz Louisville Super Z Balanced – I never gave it much of a chance.  I just liked the weighting of the end load so I only took a few cuts and moved on.

27oz Easton Brian Wegman – meh.

27oz Worth EST Balanced – another longer barrel.  didn’t love the feel.  When I got a few in the sweet spot you could tell it performed but anything that wasn’t hit just right didn’t feel great.  Just wasn’t for me.

27oz Easton Brett Helmer – hated.  vibration every hit.

I’d love to re-hit the top 3 on a field to get a better feel of how they perform, but all seemed great in the cage.  I could see any of those 3 being contenders for me to switch.

Thanks again to Al Andersons, Going Yard and JQFP Softball for hosting the demo night.  Now I have an itch to get back on the field, which could be sooner than later if the weather holds.

All for now,

J