Category Archives: Quick Thoughts

Amsterdam Recommendations

I have a couple times been asked by folks for various recommendations around Amsterdam. I visited a number of times as my previous job moved their HQ to downtown Amsterdam right on the canals. It was a lovely city to visit and is a great connection point for all over Europe. Erin joined me a number of times along with Theo and we always had a good time. Theo particularly enjoyed boat trips on the canal (including when he knocked my glasses off my head and into the water). Since the office was in the canals I generally stayed very close to the waterways as well, an easy walk to most of the popular attractions. Which means the majority of things I recommend are in that general area.

Activities

 

  • If you do a boat tour I highly recommend “Those damn boat guys” We have done that twice with Theo (who is now 2)
    • I have also done a number of larger tours with work, which was also fun
    • They are smaller boats/groups, and less stodgy very funny and factual kind of stand-up comedy history
    • Theo loved it both times, as have some friends and their kids
    • I have recommended it to others who went with them and enjoyed it
    • The pick up / drop off is across the canal from the Anne Frank house an easy to find the location
    • Watch all their videos/homework

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  • I haven’t been yet but Erin and Theo have and everyone has rave reviews about the Nemo Science Museum
  • Anne Frank house, obviously a popular stop.
  • Go through museum row (Museumplein), my favorite is the small Banksy museum there… Rijksmuseum, etc… all the others are great and as one would expect.
  • Vondelpark, frequently has music and other events going on just see what is happen while you are there
    • Rent bikes and cruise through Vondelpark, regardless of biking or walking Vondelpark is awesome on a sunny day
  • The splash parks everywhere are great, Theo basically travels the world to compare the splash parks, swings, and slides. If you travel to Amsterdam in summer there will be splash parks everywhere — the parks, the museums (including the Science Museum) and by restaurants. So, if your kiddo is young, make sure you are always prepared for him to get wet — have a towel, change of clothes and splash diaper if needed with you at all times, or you will just have either an angry or a wet kid.
  • Amsterdam is a great city for strollers — the bike infrastructure makes it very easy to navigate with a stroller and you will rarely be required to fold it up and lug it around (unlike most of Europe where a baby carrier is really the way to go).
  • Erin also recommends Red Light Secrets as a museum in the red light district to help you learn more about that part of Amsterdam’s culture and economy. Probably best for grown-ups. You actually get to go inside one of the brothels.
  • I would recommend going during summer weather, but it is beautiful and fun to walk through the snow-covered streets as well. If you do go during the summer and with your kiddos, beware the jetlag. Having the sun up until nearly 11PM can be tough on bedtime routines, but also quite fun if you are willing to go with the flow.

Food & Drinks

  • The Pantry: A slightly touristy but fun restaurant to try a bunch of traditional Dutch food
    • probably worth getting reservations as it can fill up (small not too many tables)
    • one of you should order the ham shank it is so good I get it once every visit to AMS (photo below)
    • The Pantry is also a Theo favorites

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  • In general if you like Asian food many of the Malaysian and Vietnamese places are great
  • Brewery: Might not work with kids your age but a really cool brewery in an old windmill, Brouwerij ‘t IJ
  • If traveling with young kiddos get them babychinos at the cafes (just frothed milk). Theo loved them.
  • Other restaurants: Piqniq, Winkel, Foodhallen, De Silveren Spiegel

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Honestly, my favorite part of the city is just walking around the canals, randomly stopping for snacks (chocolate covered waffles). I could easily waste hours away just walking around through the odd paths, walkways, alleys, and bridges that sprawl through the city. On work trips, I would listen to an audiobook while strolling through the streets in the evenings, which was always a pleasant way to spend an evening.

 

 

Forced Wireless Headphone Adoption

I write this as I am on a plane using $7 only semi-functioning headphones to watch a movie… This is because of course, the in-flight entertainment system doesn’t support wireless headphones. The nice new multi-hundred dollar headphones I bought for the pixel 2 won’t work for the movie… My old Bose noise canceling would have worked for the in-flight but can’t work for the Pixel 2 (adapters never around / totally broken). I started this post on my flight out, on my return flight I had to buy the airlines headphones as I couldn’t get to my wired headphones buried in my back in the overhead bin, with only my wireless headphones in reach. The current situation of headphones is far worse than it was a few years ago.

An awesome plug

Why Buy a Phone without a Headphone Jack?

Well based on the latest flagship phones from Android and Apple, you don’t really have a choice as they are forcing the wireless issue on customers. I bought the pixel 2 despite the missing headphone jack because the new camera and portrait mode photos are truly awesome. I could have got a worse camera to buy a phone that still had a headphone jack, but in a couple years I am guessing that won’t even be an option.

Theo Portrait Mode

Experience Moving To A Jackless Phone

I bought a Pixel2, but that detail really it doesn’t matter. It has been a horrible consumer experience ever since. I want to detail in this post the dozens of times I have had a worse experience since moving to a phone with wireless audio.

  • I have been caught out with my wired headphones in my bag, pocket, and no dongle adapter dozens of times, each meaning I couldn’t listen to my device.
  • I have $200+ nice Bose noise cancelling headphones (the best headphones I have ever had), made fairly useless as they are wired
  • My barely year old phones wired USB-C “adapter” stopped working… It worked at first, then only some of the time when you wiggled it, and no longer works at all.
  • At all times my backpack needs to contain wired/wireless headphones as well as an adapter
  • The same Bose headphones I liked so much in a wireless version are about $400, even as my older pair work perfectly fine
  • I have been out with my wireless headphones only to have their battery die, or try to use them finding they are already dead… Or even more annoying start to give a low battery beep at nearly max volume ever few minutes.
  • The audio drops in an out randomly requiring repairing of the phone to headphones, this doesn’t happen often anymore but still never had issues like this with wired headphones
  • My phone has been paired with my headphones which were in some other room and I can hear audit taking me awhile to realize what is going on
  • My headphones have refuse to pair for whatever reason (likely paired to something else at the moment)
  • I am not even an audiophile and the quality difference is noticable
    • I bought some really nice wireless headphones and my old Bose far are still better
  • My wireless headphones seem to try to do actions every time I touch any part of them, which I often have to do as they don’t stay on as well as my Bose
  • Can’t get to correct headphones needed as I only took one set out of my bag before putting in the overhead bin.

This is not a feature

In no way has removing the headphone jack improved my customer experience. I had wireless headphones for my Pixel 1 and it had a headphone jack which I used about 75% of the time using the wireless only on occasion. Now as I am forced to use wireless headphones I just listen to podcasts and music on my phone about much less than I used to. I end up in one of the situations above so often I don’t trust audio to be available without significantly planning and testing prior to leaving the house. I am now considering just using an older phone or another device as a dedicate audio device because this experience sucks so much. I have a young child which means when I get him to fall asleep in my lap and don’t have all the right combinations of dongles, headphones, or charged wireless headphones in arms reach I am just not going to get to listen to anything. Which happened to me on my two most recent flights when traveling with Theo… Sitting quietly while the baby sleep son my lap, thinking about how angry I am that Apple and Google both decided to ignore the numerous consumer requests to keep their damn headphone jack.

Les grand-mères

Over the last two days, Parisian grandmas have criticized our dressing of Theo twice — once saying that he needed more protection from the sun (he was in a BabyBjorn and had a sun hat) and once saying that he needed socks on his feet (it was 81 degrees out in the park). AND THEN two American exchange students came up to us and started speaking French! We are sooo fitting in with the locals!

Theo can hang in the metro (which is a wonderful way to get around) and his stroller helped us skip part of the line to get into the Louvre. But just so we don’t paint too rosy a picture — he did scream all the way up the crammed elevator to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower.

Happy Mother’s Day

After our recent adventures having Theo, I definitely have a new appreciation for Mothers. The sacrifices they make day to day and in the long run to careers (although it shouldn’t have an impact it is obvious to anyone paying attention). I appreciate all the hard work and effort it goes into raising a child that for much of it’s life will challenge and annoy you when ever possible.

Seriously, some of the things mother’s have to go through blows my mind. While much of society and medicine has drastically improved, labor and delivery is still nothing short of shocking and barbaric. If all goes well it can be magic, so I hear, but it didn’t for us. During labor is still one of the highest risk chances of death for in any mother’s life. Considering it is such a common life event, one would think it would be one of the best understood and researched medical events, but conflicting advice with little to no research backing abounds. While sharing our delivery story with folks it was surprising how many people had rough experiences and still frequently are suffering side effects years and decades later.

Clearly, I hadn’t given enough credit on mother’s day (and every other day) to my own mom. Well we get to start working on improving that this year.

This year to celebrate Erin’s first mothers day, we went to Paris! We also brought my mom… Who has been looking to get back over to visit Paris again. So this mothers day will be spent out at cute cafes with a dinner.

On the last few weeks of Erin’s maternity leave we can spend some time celebrating being a mom with each of our mother’s as Erin’s mom will be joining us for the second leg of the trip in Amsterdam.

So cheers and happy mother’s day to every mom out there… Clearly, we wouldn’t be anywhere without you.

Theodore Harley Mayer

Erin and I wanted to let folks know that our new baby Theodore entered the world happy and healthy at 1:36pm on Monday February 20th. Theo weighed 5 pounds, 14 ounces, and measured 19 inches in length. Both he and Erin are doing well. We will make little updates here and there on this blog if you want to follow along.

We got home on Erin’s birthday (22nd), and that was a lovely gift and made it easier to celebrate.

Extra data in Tanzania

We are at it again, on a mini version of our previous world tour — Arusha, TZ —> Istanbul, TK –> Amasra, TK  –> Athens, GR —> Kardamylli, GR. And right now we are catching a 2AM flight out of Kilimanjaro airport to Istanbul. We have some extra data on our phone. What to do with a bunch of extra gigs at the airport in Tanzania? Upload a few pics of our trip so far. In related news, the Kiswahili word for foreigner means, “one who walks in circles.” Fair enough.

best articles I read while traveling

I recently shared the books I read while traveling. I read a lot of longer articles while traveling as well. I thought they might be fun to share as well. If you are looking for some good things to read hopefully some of these articles will catch your eye. I read nearly all of these on my kindle, so I recommend using Amazon’s send to kindle. This will let you easily add any articles you find interesting to your reading list / kindle to enjoy later and away from the computer screen to be easy on your eyes. I am not sharing all the programming articles I read while traveling, as they won’t interest most friends and family, I’ll post them on my developer blog later.

Education

Health

Happiness

Interesting

Career