For the last 20 years, I've had to travel with my laptop frequently. I travel on cars, planes, trains, and by foot. Sometimes I'm travelling for a day trip, sometimes I'm going for a multi-day trip. I use the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 bag for all these scenarios.
Why is it good?
Central bottle holder
I can place my Klean Kanteen in a pocket within the middle of the bag. This sounds minor but it was a huge selling point for me because I felt the location of the water bottle helped prevent back strain. No more lopsidedness!
Lots of pockets for organisation
Yes, I'm that guy! I like everything in my bag to have a home. It helps me find stuff quickly. Within the Tom Bihn Synapse 25, I love having a dedicated pocket for chargers and cables. So handy!
The bag comes with loads of pockets but it's also the foundation of a modular system which can accommodate loads of interesting accessories to add even more organisation. I have the following:
Cache - to protect my laptop and to provide an easy way to access it
The build quality of the bags and accessories from Tom Bihn is second to none. Everything feels like it will last forever.
Now that I know about Tom Bihn, it's hard to imagine buying any other brand of bag. I did a lot of research before I bought the Tom Bihn Synapse 25 and I'm convinced that the only company capable of building a better bag will be Tom Bihn themselves.
No padding at the bottom of the bag. This can lead to some "oh shit" moments when you let your bag drop faster than you wanted. Anything that isn't protected will make a heart stopping thud!
Padding at the bottom of the bag
Looks like Tom Bihn solved this one with the Synik
A fully enclosed, and waterproof central pocket so that I don't have to worry about what happens if my water bottle were to leak!
Aeropress is an insanely useful coffee press that makes great coffee.
If you've ever broken a "Mr. Coffee" coffee jug while doing the dishes, then you appreciate that ease of cleaning is a big deal. It's quick to clean and very robust so you don't have to worry about breaking anything during cleaning.
Easy to store
I have the version with the Tote bag so it all fits in 1 simple bag. Easy to store and travel with.
Probably the tastiest, easiest to make dessert there is!
You can't make a "big pot" for a big group of people.
I'd like to see Aeropress embrace complimentary products to make more of a "coffee system". I'd like to see them create a grinder, a vessel for coffee bean storage, and an Aeropress holder for permanent storage. If they were to approach the design of these products with the same thoughtfulness as the Aeropress, and with the same product attributes then I think that would be compelling.
I've been a hobbyist python developer for a while and I was struggling to move to the "next level". For me, the "next level" meant a few things - more experience with a python IDE, a python debugger, the python standard library. I decided the best way to achieve my learning goals was through very deliberate practice. Python Morsels is great weekly python practice. I feel I've gone from "nervous beginner" to "confident intermediate" with python.
Why is it good?
Bite size exercises
It's realistic to do the exercises in a few hours. I have kids so I only have a few hours to give!
Very good solution explanations
The solution explanations come from an experienced python trainer and incorporate multiple approaches to the same problem
Focus on standard library
Ultimately, this is awesome because the python standard library is vast, is tremendously useful, and is not subject to trends (unlike some popular python libraries)
If you get behind or need a break, you can enter catch-up mode. You can get the same exercise every week until you've managed to complete it.
Solutions provide references to other good articles which compliment the solution for a deeper dive
Automated tests are provided to check your answers
You can't get practice outside of the standard library
This is both a strength and a weakness. While it's great to focus on the standard library, it would also be great to get some practice with popular libraries. Doing so would expand the types of exercises that could be completed. PyBites seems like an alternative solution if breadth is your primary learning goal.
Lessons don't include "how to" guides for essential tools like IDEs, debuggers, or git clients
It would be nice to see the final solution in a downloadable file. While the solutions and associated explanations are excellent, I'd like to download a python file containing the final solution. Sometimes it's hard to track all the code in the solution explanations so a "final reference" would be useful.
Visual Studio Code a.k.a., VS Code is a free, extremely powerful, lightweight, open source integrated development environment (IDE) backed by Microsoft.
How do I use it?
I use it as my go to text editor. That means everything from quick notes to python programming. The full value of VS Code is only realised while programming. For this task, it excels.
My previous editor of choice was Sublime Text so a lot of my observations are a result of comparing VS Code with Sublime Text.
I love Sublime Text but it's progress was slow and it's documentation was lacking. I think that Microsoft's backing adds a lot of credibility to VS Code and ensures speedy development because of their massive resources.
Debugger and git built-in
If you're programming in 2020 then you need a debugger and git. You could have cobbled together some sort of experience with Sublime Text but having these tools built into VS Code takes the experience to the next level.
The experience within the editor is good and the documentation is solid for when you get stuck or want to do something more exotic.
Like Sublime, VS Code is extensible. You can add extensions or themes to make the editor do new things or look different. Again, this feels like a must-have for a modern editor.
Python extension is very good
The python extension for VS Code is simply incredible for python programmers. Setting up a python environment, a linter, a debugger, and using "IntelliSense" (think autocomplete for programmers) is all simple with this one extension.
All of my Python Morsels work is done in VS Code with the python extension.
Online version coming soon!
Visual Studio Online is currently in "public preview" but looks really promising. The value proposition seems really simple, you can use VS Code, including all of your favourite extensions, from a web browser. Very cool!
You have options: headphone jack, or bluetooth. Both work great but I prefer bluetooth because there is less chance of accidentally becoming disconnected. The bluetooth connection with the PuroQuiet is very fast and reliable.
Battery life is great
Whether it's a road trip or a flight from the USA to the UK, we've never had a problem with battery life.
PuroQuiet are advertised as having 16 hours battery life with active noise cancelling on. That's nuts!
If your battery does run out, no trouble, just use the headphone jack
These are built like professional headphones. PuroQuiet are not built like a disposable kid's toy.
We really like the premium feel and my kids have not figured out how to destroy them.
Expensive (but Puro Sound do provide cheaper options).
None. My kids love them.
These tools were awesome finds in 2019. I'm looking forward to more cool tools in 2020.
Have you used any of the tools described here? What was your experience? What alternatives exist?
What were your top picks from 2019?
Pick a product, if you were in charge of it, what would you change first?
What tools are you excited about purchasing in 2020?