June 4, 2023

WWDC 2023 Wishlist

Tomorrow will likely be as important for Apple, as the iPhone introduction. And while I’m all-in for adjective parade, when the confetti settles, I’m a simple man with simple wishes.

Here’s my personal software updates wishes for tomorrow:

  • Family Shared Airtags in Findmy.
  • Mac Stage Manager keyboard shortcuts for everything.
  • Mac notification update. It’s been broken for years, so many in fact, that I don’t expect a fix now, I want a considerable improvement.
  • Smarter iOS software keyboard. Anecdotally it’s getting dumber. Objectively it hasn’t improved in years.
  • Universal Clipboard History on iOS. Give us the Pastebot we deserve.
  • Books app for Android. I want to read on an iPad during the day and an eink at night.

That’s it. I consider all these possible, but not all probable.

June 2, 2023

Boox Leaf 2 Short Term Review

The Boox Leaf 2 is an $199 Android tablet with an ink screen in a small factor and side buttons for up/down or next/previous page turns. I’ve had it for over two months now and use it almost every day for reading ebooks. I first became interested in it after reading Six Colors review a while back.

A Better Eink Reader?

Up front, the Leaf 2 has not changed my reading habits the way I hoped/wished. One of the advantages I thought about it being Android is that I could use my read-it-later apps: Reader and Omnivore. In reality, the speed of the tablet and of the e-ink screen means that if the apps are not optimized for it — mostly no scrolling rather but paginating the articles — it’s a painful experience.

Boox Leaf 2 and Kindle PaperwhiteBoox Leaf 2 and Kindle Paperwhite

One of the things I do like about it is the software being an Android variant is ability to have Android apps and the upgrade_ability_ this implies. Unlike the Amazon Kindle, where the software is almost as static with the physical device itself. You very rarely get big upgrades or changes with it.

Another thing I like is the button layout. It is a fairly standard ebook reader with buttons layout, similar to the Kindle Oasis and some Kobo Libre designs and a bunch of generic Chinese ink tablets.
But it does work. I do see myself appreciating the side buttons a lot as I lay in bed at night. I had the Kindle Voyage for a long time, which had pressure buttons on the sides, which were useful but not as great as real clickable buttons.

Android Platform

The flexibility of the device software is bittersweet. There’s a side of my the sighs heavily when I have to configure the touch areas for book turning — or for turning it off. However, the long term dynamism of the device makes me happy.

For example, I’ve already decided and changed my mind, on which reading application to use three times. Originally the Kindle app was discarded because for some reason — even when using the physical buttons — the page turning animation would show. It made reading unbearable.

The full featured default reader was next. Works really well but, it allows too much personalization, and, doesn’t have a clear path for synching highlights with Readwise — a deal breaker.

I then moved on to Google Play Books, and was surprised how much well it worked: easy ePub uploads, nice book layouts and great synch across applications. But it has the most annoying automatic dictionary bubble I’ve ever seen. What’s worse, the dismissing gesture didn’t seem to take on the eInk screen.

I then crossed to the pond to the PocketBook ecosystem. Here the configuration options of the Android app are endless. So settled on it for a few weeks — worried on how I’d import into Readwise, but sure I’d find a way since there’s a Obsidian plugin.

Where am I now? well two funny things happened: first, I figured out how to dismiss the dictionary pop-up on the Google Play Books; and secondly, the Kindle page turning slowness fixed itself with some update.

The Design

As I mentioned, the design is really good. I like the button placement and don’t mind the charging port placement. However, it’s a bit plasticky. Depending on how you grab it, it can creak a little1.

Boox Leaf 2Boox Leaf 2

One thing that sucks is the included case. I don’t like how it holds the device, and it’s flimsy, meaning the magnets on the cover do not close properly. Ended up buying a sleeve to use when traveling.

A Quick Note On the Amazon Kindle Ecosystem

One of the things that nudged me on the Android route is that Kindle’s support for EPUB is very hacky. I acquire” a lot of DRM-free books and every time I try to get one into the Kindle, it messes with the layout.

I feel that this will continue to get worse. The Kindle ecosystem is a dead end if you’re into DRM-free books. Which makes more open platforms like this one more attracting to me.

Closing Thoughts

Would I buy it again? I don’t know. I would probably take another look first at the Kobo Libra 2 or the refurbished Oasis. Should you buy it? No. Trust Jason Snell, I agree with him and wouldn’t recommend this reader to almost anyone.

This isn’t an ebook reader product, it’s an ebook reader project. It require too much fine-tuning to really get started.


  1. I have the black version which has a flush screen. The white version doesn’t have the glass screen on top. I don’t know how if that makes a difference.↩︎

Recent tidbits

  • JuxtaCode: good looking beta Git merge tool for macOS.

  • Trypa: trigger shortcuts based on environmental, hardware and system factors on macOS.

June 2, 2023

Don’t Hold the Elevator Doors

There’s a story of people getting off the elevator whenever Steve Jobs would get in on them at the Apple Campus. The premise being that he would ask: what are you working on? And if your answer was not satisfactory or interesting enough, you would get fired.

While the story seems more myth than fact, as all urban legends, it sure sounds plausible.

The thing is, your current project could be the ugly side or the sharp edge of major initiatives that as a whole does bring change and adds value.

Sometimes things need a temporary solution. Sometimes your pillar is critical, but its upgrade is not a priority.

The question is, then, should you get off the elevator whenever what you’re working on is not elevator-proof™?, or should you be prepared to answer that question?

As an individual contributor, it’s unfair to make you be aware of what’s the business-like answer of what you’re working on question. As a project manager, or better said, as a manager, this is a sixth sense that you should have. Reading the room, understanding your ugly duckling role in the major project.

June 2, 2023

Amazon Prime Mobile Service Rumored

Aisha Malik, on TechCrunch:

People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that Amazon is considering offering wireless plans for $10 a month or possibly for free, in a move to bolster loyalty among subscribers. Currently, some people may cancel their Prime subscription and then sign-up again when they want to. If Amazon were to bundle mobile service into Prime, it would likely lead to people sticking with their subscriptions long-term.

Compelling. As an Amazon Prime subscriber, this would be interesting to me.

We currently subscribe to Google Fi on a family plan, which has worked really well — specially for travel. But the adoption of eSim has started to make temporary data plans very convient and price competitive1.


  1. Been using Airalo when we go over our data plans on trips, and it has worked great. Referral link.↩︎

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June 1, 2023

Brave Browser Now Has Vertical Tabs on Desktop

Brave Software:

Brave’s vertical tabs feature is now available for users to experience a new way to manage open tabs. With today’s 1.52 desktop release, the vertical tabs setting is available to Brave users on Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Great news, while a far cry of the over-designed Arc Browser, it’s a great options and my usual recommendation at work. The reasoning on vertical tabs on desktop screen is summarized perfectly on their page:

Vertical tabs help to eliminate overcrowding your browser window, and to increase your on-screen real estate.

I now get lost when I use Safari’s horizontal tabs on my Mac.

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May 31, 2023

Meta Quest 3 Hands-On

Mark Gurman, on Bloomberg:

The device, codenamed Eureka, feels far lighter and thinner than the existing Quest 2 from 2020.

[…]

The actual clarity and VR displays within the Quest 3 feel similar to those in the Quest 2 — despite the resolution being rumored to be slightly higher. But there are two areas where I saw major improvements: video pass-through for mixed reality and the device’s speedier performance.

My brother-in-law fully lives the VR work life: he connects to his Mac and uses and Quest 2 to have multiple virtual monitors. However, the resolution isn’t there. Not sure if slightly higher, would make a difference with him.

Meta hasn’t yet settled on pricing for the device, but people involved in its development believe it may come in higher than the Quest 2’s $400. There is also a belief that the Quest 2 could stick around at a lower price. But there probably won’t be a second-generation Quest Pro anytime soon since the first version bombed.

The VR marketing is going to get interesting, and a $299 Quest 2 will probably make the $2,999 Apple device look very Apple priced for those not into tech details.

However, the most interesting thing for me on this articules is the fact that Meta saw it necessary to preannounce the Quest 3 a week before WWDC. If they are preempting Apple’s announcement, then there must be some sort of device announcement.


Update: and today Meta announced Meta Quest 3 Coming This Fall + Lower Prices for Quest 2:

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May 29, 2023

Raycast Pro Launched

Thomas Paul Mann, on raycast.com:

Today, we’re introducing Raycast Pro, a paid plan that unlocks a new level of productivity. The subscription provides access to the following new features for $8 per month, billed annually.

[…]

But the most significant change is AI. This marks the start of a new era for productivity. Raycast’s deep integration into the OS and powerful Extension platform make us uniquely suited to build a personal assistant that enhances our digital lives.

A few weeks in, I still haven’t subscribed. But I’m sure I will by the end of the year.

I understand how the AI functionality is the current headlining feature — but I’m still figuring out where and how I’m going to be interacting with it, so is not a must-have for me.

What would I need to so subscribe now? Anything that would enhance the Github Issues plugin, or an advanced way to do file management. Can understand why neither are priority, but those are my demands.

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May 29, 2023

Tidbits for 2023 Week 21

  • Stops: very nice iOS photography app with beautiful filters.

  • FileFillet : macOS app that stays on the left side of the screen, and makes copy/paste files to locations very easy.

  • AnyGPT: makes any text field in macOS becomes a ChatGPT prompt.

  • HackerNewt: iOS client for Hacker News that makes reading comments much less painful.

  • Pixian.AI: simple webapp to remove image backgrounds and no signup - just credit.

  • Sky Bridge: server that translates Mastodon requests into Bluesky ones, so you can use Mastodon apps. Still not Bluesky invite, but keeping around.

  • ProNotes: macOS Apple Notes extension which adds ChatGPT, Markdown, and other formatting. I feel the urge to use.

  • ‎video for ants: iOS app the will convert the format, compress the bitrate, and optimize the fps to make video smaller. Wish I had this a while back.

  • ‎Naptime: iOS tracking of baby nap times and awake windows. If this makes no sense, it might in the future.

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May 27, 2023

Pocket Getting Redesigned iOS App

Jay Peters, on The Verge:

Reader app Pocket is launching a redesigned version of its iOS app, Pocket owner Mozilla announced on Tuesday. The revamped app has a focus on a new Home tab that’s designed to be a starting off point for visiting everything in Pocket, from your saved content to the articles we think you’ll love,” according to a blog post.

I’m very happy with my current Reader and Omnivore setup, but Pocket has always been a good alternative. Sadly, it seems long times users don’t like the redesign.

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May 27, 2023

Meta’s New Multilingual speech-to-text, text-to-speech

on Meta AI:

Collecting audio data for thousands of languages was our first challenge because the largest existing speech datasets cover at most 100 languages. To overcome it, we turned to religious texts, such as the Bible, that have been translated in many different languages and whose translations have been widely studied for text-based language translation research.

Something very ironic about using the Bible to train multilingual models. The Tower of Babel is right at the start.

We trained multilingual speech recognition models on over 1,100 languages using a 1B parameter wav2vec 2.0 model. As the number of languages increases, performance does decrease, but only very slightly: Moving from 61 to 1,107 languages increases the character error rate by only about 0.4 percent but increases the language coverage by over 18 times.

The number of languages is mind-blowing to me. A functional universal translator is at hand.

In a like-for-like comparison with OpenAI’s Whisper, we found that models trained on the Massively Multilingual Speech data achieve half the word error rate, but Massively Multilingual Speech covers 11 times more languages. This demonstrates that our model can perform very well compared with the best current speech models.

Was very excited about this, but some commenters pointed out that while most languages error rates is superior, it error rate is similar to Whisper in English.

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May 27, 2023

Microsoft Fabric AI Data Platform

Arun Ulagaratchagan, on Azure Blog:

Today we are unveiling Microsoft Fabric—an end-to-end, unified analytics platform that brings together all the data and analytics tools that organizations need. Fabric integrates technologies like Azure Data Factory, Azure Synapse Analytics, and Power BI into a single unified product, empowering data and business professionals alike to unlock the potential of their data and lay the foundation for the era of AI.

The intro video looks really cool. Will be keeping my eye on it — this is the next step of data platforms in enterprise.

Our tool data tool DOMO, also previewed their AI Service Layer. While not as flashy, I felt it was more sincere and actionable. Regardless, this is the future.

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May 26, 2023

Ryan Sipes, on The Thunderbird Blog:

[…] After nearly 20 years, we are thrilled to share a completely redesigned Thunderbird logo that honors our history and vital connection to Mozilla, while carrying us forward into the next 20 years.

Great looking logo and application icons. That’s not something you see all the time. Of course, no surprise:

But you should never forget your roots, which is why we asked Jon Hicks, the creator of the original Firefox and Thunderbird logos, to re-imagine his iconic design in light of Thunderbird’s exciting future.

I’m a fan of his work, so completely biased. He had some nice comments on mastodon about the logo.

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May 26, 2023

OpanAI ChatGPT app for iOS

on openai.com:

The ChatGPT app is free to use and syncs your history across devices. It also integrates Whisper, our open-source speech-recognition system, enabling voice input. ChatGPT Plus subscribers get exclusive access to GPT-4’s capabilities, early access to features and faster response times, all on iOS.

Better than 99% of all ChatGPT apps out there. Hoping apps like Short Circuit, Peteyand Poe continue to exist.

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May 18, 2023

The Work of the Audiobook

Alexander Manshel, Laura B. McGrath, J. D. Porter, on Los Angeles Review of Books:

Audiobooks have become such a driving economic force in the publishing industry that they have spawned their own dedicated networks of promotion, circulation, and consecration. Audiobook rights are now a staple of book contracts, changing the terms of negotiation.

Had no idea how much weight audiobooks now had on the industry.

The promise of the audiobook is that reading time, leisure time, entertaining time, and edifying story time can all happen anywhere at any time. Whether you are riding the bus to work, doing the dishes, or nodding off to sleep, the hands-free audiobook allows you the freedom to read when you otherwise could not.

My audiobook consumption has dropped off a cliff without post-covid commute craziness. Still, I always try to have a couple non-fiction audiobooks around1. I’m able to think about what I hear, but fail miserably if I have to use my imagination. Which makes fiction books a no-go.


  1. Currently listening to: Under Alien Skies: A Sightseer’s Guide to the Universe, by Philip Plait PhD.↩︎

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May 17, 2023

Obsidian Image Zoom and Preview

If you use obsidian-minimal theme, good reminder if you image zoom is driving use crazy:

  • Style Settings > Minimal Theme > Features > Disable image zoom

I’m trying out Obsidian Image Toolkit, and while not pretty, it’s an improvement over the default image zooming behavior.

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May 15, 2023

Tidbits for 2023 Week 19

  • Soulver 3: for iPad is out. I mostly use v2 on iPhone, but very close to upgrading.

  • Foldie: Transfer files between Android and MacOS. Useful for my experiments with the Boox Leaf 2.

  • Introspect: iOS journaling app that uses ChatGPT’s to ask questions about your writing. Very interesting.

  • Breveto: Yet another writing App for Mac. Looks very pretty, and in active development. Will keep an eye on it.

  • Table of contents: Safari extension for quickly documents for macOS and iOS. See a list of all headings in the page and click any to jump to it. Brilliant.

  • Praxis: Block scripts, trackers, and cookies on iOS. Waiting for iPad version to see if I can replace Brave for this use-case.

  • FSMonitor: macOS app that monitors all changes to the file system.

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May 11, 2023

New Mastodon Onboarding Experience

Eugen Rochko, on Mastodon Blog:

We believe it’s important for Mastodon to be good as a product on its own merits, and not just because of its ideology. If we only attract people who already care about decentralization, our ability to make decentralization mainstream becomes that much harder.

In the context of Bluesky recent rise, I thinks this specially great news. For some (like me), the decentralization of Mastodon is a feature, but for many many more, it’s a horrible bug. Making onboarding simpler is required for those of us what want Mastodon to continue to grow.

We’re always listening to the community and we’re excited to bring you some of the most requested features, such as quote posts, improved content and profile search, and groups.

Actually the most interesting part of the post for me — quote posts are a big deal in social, and I think an implementation will make it more fun for everyone.

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May 5, 2023

Nebo New Free Plan On iPad

The Nebo team, on Nebo:

So what’s the new plan and how does it affect you? That depends on whether you’re a new or existing user, and which Nebo in-apps (if any) you’ve purchased in the past.

The biggest change is that everyone will now be able to access all Nebo’s features for free.

Nebo has the best HWR of all the iPad apps I’ve tried. In fact, it’s how I usually write down my DayOne entry from bed at night.

This is great news for educational and other users with limited budget.

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May 5, 2023

Default Folder X 6.0 Big New Features

St. Clair Software Blog:

Quick Search: Keyboard-based access to Recent and Favorite Items, including recently-launched applications and recently-used Finder windows.

[…]

Drag and Drop: You can now drag and drop files and folders onto Default Folder X’s icon in your menu bar. When you do, it will pop up its menu so you can select a destination for them.

Every few years I let my 30 days expire DFX trial. It’s an amazing app, but it never quite makes the cut because I need some changes in workflow to take full advantage of it. The two features highlighted above, sound like they’ll get me to finally purchase.

Will wait a couple of weeks until it’s in beta, and will give it a try.

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May 4, 2023

Dave Winer: I want Bluesky to go away

Dave Winer, on Scripting News:

I definitely want Bluesky to just go away. I don’t like it because if it gains traction it has potential of replacing Twitter as the festering turd in the middle of what should have been a vibrant growing market that keeps anything else from rising in competition with it.

I agree with Dave Winer on this one. I’ll check BlueSky out when I get an invite, but I enjoy Mastodon.

I do get the Mastodon can get annoying with the anti-twitter vibe. This is out of left field, but it reminds me about moving to Miami from Venezuelan in 2014, and the constant self-justification all Venezuelans that migrated had for leaving. Many could not entertain the possibility that that it wasn’t a binary answer: it was ok to both stay or leave.

Still, as before, Tweetbot/Ivory is my software baggage. Their app is my window to social scrolling services, and whatever they support, I’m game.

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April 30, 2023

Nordic Spawns of Chromium Updates

Jon von Tetzchner, on Vivaldi Browser:

Today, we are thrilled to share new features — Custom Icons and Workspaces — that will change the way you experience Vivaldi on your desktop. With the release of 6.0, our powerful and personal browser goes even further.

If Arc suddenly went away, I’d probably use Vivaldi that day. It’s a great browser with lots of power features. It used to feel slow, but playing with 6.0 on my Mac, there’s snappiness™ there.

Julia Szyndzielorz, on Opera Newsroom:

Opera One is the early access version of a completly redesigned browser that is planned to replace the flagship Opera browser for Windows, MacOS, and Linux later this year. Based on Modular Design, Opera One transforms the way you interact with your browser, delivering a liquid navigation experience which is more intuitive to the user. With today’s release, Opera One also becomes the first major Chromium-based browser with a multithreaded compositor that brings the UI to life like never before. Opera One also introduces Tab Islands, a new, more intuitive way of interacting with and managing multiple tabs.

As always, Opera packs a bunch of interesting features. The new automatic grouping of Tabs being one of them, I just never bother anymore.

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April 27, 2023

Keyboard tricks from a macOS app dev

Alin Panaitiu, on notes.alinpanaitiu.com:

This is a collection of keyboard and trackpad workflows that I accumulated over the last 7 years of using a MacBook.

Nothing totally new, but great summary of all available tools for macOS keyboard shortcuts. It was a bit surprising that Alin is the developer of rcmd app, and he uses so many other similar apps.

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April 26, 2023

Upcoming Obsidian Bookmarks Feature

TfTHacker, on Medium:

The Bookmarks feature is similar to the bookmarking feature in a browser, allowing you to save shortcuts to frequently visited files and folders. Obsidian Bookmarks even go further than the browser concept. You can bookmark:

  • Searches: using the search panel, you can define a search and bookmark it to repeat that search.
  • Headings: Create bookmarks for a specific heading in a file. So we are not just creating bookmarks into files, but can also bookmark a specific line in a file.

Still not out in stable release, so I haven’t played with it. But it looks very powerful. Article gives great overview and some ideas on how it can be used.

Seems inevitable that I’ll adopt this new feature in my workflow.

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April 26, 2023

Flipboard Editorial Desks on Mastodon

Carl Sullivan, on Flipboard:

Flipboard editors bring their curation skills to Mastodon with four editorial accounts. Not bots, each of these Desks is staffed by professional curators with expertise in discovering and elevating the best content. We’re focusing on explainers and analysis — more the why” and how” than the who,” what” and where.”

Great move by Flipboard. If I didn’t need fewer rabbit holes, I’d download again1.

We’re not trying to replicate all the breaking news services out there, including many bot accounts already on Mastodon. We also don’t want to flood your feed with a kajillion posts. Instead our goal is to give people on Mastodon context for what’s happening in the world.

I subscribed last week to News Desk and Tech Desk, and I haven’t been overwhelmed and no click-baiting. If you’re on Mastodon, recommended follows.


  1. Maybe I’ll do a cleanup a replace other apps (Narwhal, Axios, Hacker Feed) that lead me to scrolling hell.↩︎

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April 22, 2023

Google Flight Price Guarantee Pilot

Richard Holden, on Google:

Now, we’re going a step further with a new pilot program for price guarantees in the U.S. If you see a flight with the price guarantee badge, it means we’re confident that the price you see today won’t get any lower before takeoff.

I use Google Flights religiously for all trips. At least for my summer trip planning, this hasn’t shown up yet. But I do see myself nudged to use this feature.

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April 21, 2023

Fantastical Adds Better Shortcuts Support

Jason Snell & Dan Moren, on Six Colors:

To get our automation to work, we had to set up Apple’s default Calendar app and log it in to our Google calendars. For such a full-featured app, Fantastical’s lack of Shortcuts actions was really surprising.

While I use Fantastical as my calendar, I had to use Apple Calendar for some Obsidian Shortcuts, because I couldn’t get the data from Fantastical.

Things have gotten better! Flexibits just released Fantastical 3.7.9, which adds a bunch of new Shortcuts actions, including the ability to filter events from a given Calendar Set in a given date range, and the ability to generate a simple schedule for a given day.

Updating the Shortcuts now, and things do look better.

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April 14, 2023

AeroPress Showcases 4 New Products

AeroPress PR:

The only coffee maker that combines three brewing technologies in one simple to use press will debut prototypes of the new AeroPress Clear, AeroPress Premium, and AeroPress Flow Control Filter Cap, along with concept art for the extra large AeroPress XL.

Wow. While new products were totally expected after they received an investment in 2021, four at once is a surprise. For the past 15 years, they basically had introduced 3 products: the original AeroPress in 2005, the AeroPress Go in 2019, and the Reusable Metal Filter last year. So this is a like suddenly getting a couple of new Calvin and Hobbes books.

Taking a look at the products announced:

  • AeroPress Clear - The AeroPress Clear uses the same breakthrough brewing technology as the AeroPress Original in a new crystal-clear form made of premium Tritan™ copolyester. Make up to 4 grit-free coffee types in under a minute - americano, latte, espresso, and cold brew.

Sold. My original AeroPress numbers are long-gone, and the idea of having a mythical transparent AeroPress is fun.

  • AeroPress XL - The AeroPress XL allows coffee lovers to brew twice as much smooth, rich, full-bodied coffee as the AeroPress Original, with all the same benefits of versatility, quick brew time, and portability.

Interesting, but I’m already going to have two Aeropress, which should result on the same output. Having a non-standard size, means a different set of accompanying toys.

  • AeroPress Premium - Thanks to feedback from our highly loyal global community of Baristas and at-home coffee lovers, we’re launching our first premium coffee press! Crafted beautifully from glass, aluminum and stainless steel and the same technology as the AeroPress Original, the AeroPress Premium is designed with your counter space in mind. Feel free to show off this stunning innovation, combining form and function into one fun, easy to use coffee device.

Will hold judgement and see. Glass does not hold heat well. Let’s see how they solve for that.

  • AeroPress Flow Control Filter Cap - Eliminates drip through, allowing for an extended brew time, complete control of the brewing experience, and the ability to get creative with Barista-syle homemade coffee recipes.

Likely getting this because I love my Fellow Prismo. However, the reviews on reddit aren’t great. Will purchase alongside the clear Aeropress over the summer.

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