5 Products That Changed My Life (For the Better)

Posted on June 26, 2014

Every once in a blue moon you encounter a product so awesome that it makes your life demonstrably better, sometimes over the course of many years. I want to take a moment to shout out a few of those products in my life.

Note: this is a totally unsolicited post. I am not affiliated with any of these companies.

Etymotic ER-4S Headphones

These headphones have ended my search for headphones. Ten years ago I bought a pair of these things and they haven't left my bag since. Because they go inside your ear canal, they mechanically filter out the vast majority of ambiant noise. This means you can listen to your audio at comfortable and safe volumes even when in a loud coffee shop or on the subway. And they sound incredible. It takes a little while to get used to the present midrange and unusual bass, but once you do the articulation and response is profound. My interactions with Etymotic for warranty service have also been supurb.

Swrve Cordura Jeans

If I'm going for a really long ride I'll bust out some spandex. Most of the time, though, I wear jeans. I went through a lot of jeans. I tried Levi's and weird off-brands made from super crazy, work-style denim. They all ended up with a big ol' hole in the crotch from riding my bike. Then I got tipped off about Swrve jeans. I bought a pair of their regular fit jeans and loved them. They lasted a year and a half before the crotch holes appeared. Much better! Then they started making a variation with Cordura. HOLY SHIT. These things are monsters. Totally comfortable, stylish, and durable as hell. I love the extra belt loops and the reflective stripe. No holes even starting to form. Please never discontinue these. I promise I'll buy a couple more pairs soon.

Line6 PodXT

I was a big fan of the original Pod and the Pod 2.0. They helped me to discover my preferences for guitar tone without having to shell out inordinate amounts of cash to try dozens of amps or pedals. I was able to figure out the general ballpark and go from there. Then the PodXT came along and I was floored by the sound. It sounded so much better than the original and had even more options. Line6 released a non-stop barrage of fresh firmware that opened up more and more options. Then they released expansion packs to enable more amp and effect models. I bought them all. The PodXT has been my recording companion for years and makes tracking great sounding guitar parts possible in humble apartments.

TimBuk2 Maverick Messenger Bag

My first messenger bag was a TimBuk2 bag. It was a basic model with ballistic nylon. I used it for a couple of years and generally loved it but I learned it was not entirely waterproof. Given sufficient exposure to rain, the water would seep through the nylon and pool in the chamber. Then TimBuk2 released the "Mavericks" bag with welded seams and a coated nylon exterior. This bag has stood the test of time. I love all the compartments. The size is absolutely perfect - not too big, not too small, and is very comfortable. I lived a year and a half biking in Vancouver, BC and never once did I discover any water inside. Just incredible.

2013 Macbook Air

The best thing I can say about the MBA is that most of the time I don't notice it. After working with various PC manufacturers and maintaining Linux distributions, the MBA/OSX combo melts away and I generally just focus on my work. The 2013 Haswell processesors use so little energy I don't even need to carry around my spare battery anymore. Bravo.

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