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On Headphones

How important is the headphone jack on your phone?

Until recently, that was a question many of us had never considered. I mean, why would we? In the 29 years that I’ve been on this planet, I have used many different devices, but no matter what device I was using – be it a portable cassette or CD player, a Game Boy, an iPod, a Windows or Mac computer, or even a smartphone – I knew that any pair of headphones would work on all of them. That era is over. Apple’s announcement of the iPhone 7, which no longer features the humble 3.5mm headphone jack, now forces us all to consider how much we value the perennial audio port.

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I Think I’m Turning 29

Earlier this month, I officially entered the final year of my 20s. It seems like only yesterday that I was a newly-minted 20-year-old: excited that I was no longer a teenager but also terrified about going off to college and living on my own. It seemed like there were so many ways a could fail at being an adult. How would I do my laundry without turning everything pink and toddler-sized? How would I prepare food more complicated than Cup-o-Noodles? What if I got a messy roommate?!

Although I can’t say that I navigated the past nine years without a few shrunken clothes and lukewarm ramen cups, I like to think I have evolved into a well-rounded and responsible adult human male. I live on my own and I’m not struggling financially; I’m basically debt-free; my body and mind are healthy; and I finally have a job that I look forward to each day. Never content to rest on my laurels, I thought I should maybe use this time to reflect on my life and where I’d like it to head in the coming years. You might even call them… “Mid-Year Resolutions“.

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The Best Kindle Ever

It’s no small secret that I love my Kindle Paperwhite. It’s pretty much the perfect device for reading books both large and small. I know many people like using their phones or tablets for reading, but I always found the apps and notifications on those devices too distracting when I wanted to read. A new email or message from Facebook is the last thing I need popping up when I’m face-deep in a novel. Plus, I can’t really justify bringing a tablet over my Kindle when traveling, especially since (1) my phone can do many of the same tasks, (2) the battery life of a tablet pales in comparison to a Kindle, and (3) I really don’t personally enjoy the experience of reading on LCD screens compared to e-Ink.

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July 4th Be With You

I know many Americans are probably celebrating Independence Day by watching the 1996 Will Smith movie of the same name (or the recently released sequel), but not me. When I realized that all my Star Wars shirts were red, white, and blue, I knew that I’d be celebrating America’s birthday with Luke, Leia, Han, and the rest of the Rebel Alliance (plus some Ewoks).

Return of the Jedi even ends with fireworks and a giant explosion. What’s more American than that?!


The Rocketeer

Disney’s First Avenger

Back in 1991, long before Disney had any notion of one day buying Marvel, the company released a movie based on a little-known comic book superhero: The Rocketeer. I won’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of this film, especially since the 1991 Disney film most people are familiar with is Beauty and the Beast. What’s more, the late 80s and early 90s were a period of mostly-forgotten comic book-to-movie adaptations, including Darkman (1990), The Shadow (1994), and Dick Tracy (1990). Only Tim Burton’s two Batman films have survived in popular consciousness. I honestly forgot The Rocketeer existed for many years, although I recall seeing the VHS at my local video rental store during the mid-1990s (back when that was still a viable business). I’d heard good things about The Rocketeer in the last few years (particularly on The Incomparable podcast), so when I learned that this past week marked the 25th anniversary of the film, I decided to finally sit down and watch it.

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Technolust: Time for Another Pebble

Almost like clockwork, Pebble is back on Kickstarter with their next lineup of smartwatches.

It was only last year that I bought my very first Pebble watch, and at the time I wasn’t sure if I even had room for a wearable device in my life. Sure, there’s something inherently cool about owning a watch that would make James Bond or Dick Tracy jealous, but that doesn’t mean such a device would actually be useful day-to-day. Thankfully, it turned out that even if you ignore the extra “smart” features, the Pebble Time Steel is a fantastic watch. I never realized how useful it is to always have to current time on your wrist.

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What’s the Deal with Snapchat?

When it comes to technology and stuff on the internet, I’m usually not very far outside of the loop. I understood the appeal of social networks like Facebook and Instagram right away (heck, I was using Twitter before it was a household name). I see why emoji and stickers are so popular, although I don’t use them much myself. I own a smartwatch. I even saw the appeal of Google Glass, which at first blush I thought was “sci-fi movie” cool. But Snapchat? No matter how hard I try, I simply cannot wrap my mind around it.

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Female Protagonists are not a Feminist Conspiracy

When Nintendo confirmed this past week that, at least in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the character Link would remain strictly male, many people were understandably disappointed. The last few months had been full rumors suggesting there would at least be an option to play the game as a woman; even I not-so-secretly hoped the Internet Rumor Mill was right on this one. With so many conventions and tropes being thrown away for this new Legend of Zelda game, why not make the game even more inclusive to women by adding a female avatar? Some took the news as a slight against women, or further proof that Nintendo was still a “backwards” Japanese company; others – I think it’s fair to say – were indignant, even angry. Personally, I had the privilege to simply shrug my shoulders and say “maybe next time.”

However, those on the other side of this discussion were just as angry. In fact, they were furious at the very idea that Nintendo would – nay, should – let players flip the gender of a traditionally male (albeit very androgynous) videogame character. “Just another example of feminists trying to ram their beliefs down my throat,” they might say.

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In Light of Recent Events in Orlando

I wrote a letter to my Senator today, and I urge you all to do the same, especially if you care at all about the factors that led up to the recent tragedy in Orlando.

I’m lucky to have representatives who shares my beliefs. One of my Senators – Dianne Feinstein – is a proven leader with regards to common sense gun regulations. In the wake of the Orlando shootings, she proposed an amendment barring the sale of guns and explosives to known or suspected terrorists. She also helped lead the fight to pass the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.

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Doing Whatever a Spider Can

It’s not often that a game announcement at E3 surprises me. I knew going into E3 that the next Legend of Zelda game (now known to the world as “Breath of the Wild“) was destined to be on my “must play videogames” list. It almost didn’t matter what Nintendo announced. And outside of something like The Last Guardian or Persona 5, I did not expect any game at Sony’s E3 presentation that would actually make me want to buy a Playstation 4. I was able to comfortably sit out the Playstations 3 / Xbox 360 generation, and much of what I’ve been seeing this generation from Sony and Microsoft has been either remasters or sequels for games I was ambivalent towards the first time. I thought I knew what to expect this year.

How could I have known they were planning to reveal a new Spider-Man videogame?

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Words With Jeff

About Words with Jeff

This is the blog of Jeff Staple