Weighing in on Latkes

You want to make latkes? You grate an onion and potatoes on an Acme Safety Grater (the use of the word “safety” being one of the crueler ironies of the 1930s)…


I’ve finally gotten around to reading Onward by Howard Shultz, ceo of Starbucks. I actually preordered the book and it’s been sitting on a shelf for many months. I’m reaching the end of the book and have really enjoyed reading it. He explains step by step how some critical and difficult decisions were made.

One of these included removing, then bringing back breakfast sandwiches from the cafés. The below photo was on display at a Starbucks in Bloomington, IL. We were on our way to St. Louis and seeing this seemed like a little IRL easter egg.


Ford Focus

I bought a new car back in September and have thought about writing about it for some time but also don’t really think I need to tell the whole world about what car I’m driving around. It was a big deal for me to make the purchase and I got a car that I felt was practical and fuel-efficient but also fun to drive and technologically advanced.

It was what I like to call my quarter life crisis and I wanted to get something that was more than the bare minimum of what I needed. The 2012 Ford Focus fit the bill perfectly. It’s fuel efficient and fun to drive. The center console tech is probably the best available in a non-luxury car. The doors unlock when I touch the door handle from the outside and it has push button start (no need to ever remove the keys from my pocket), LCD display with MyFord Touch, and a few other things I won’t go into detail about. I also went with the 5 door hatchback which is great for when I take my bike on a trip (it fits inside the car with the rear seats folded down)1.

When I started driving it I saw very few other new Focus on the road. Now I’m seeing more and more. In March Ford sold almost 6,700 more Focus units (28,293 total in March) than GM sold Cruze units, its nearest competition. For both of these vehicles it marks a shift for the domestic manufacturers beginning to take over the lead of the small car market.

I share this because I can’t help but feel like I made the right bet. Not only do I really like the car, but it’s also leading the market. Feels good to see Detroit gain it’s strength back and produce vehicles that people want to buy.

  1. I plan to put a hitch on it this summer and add a bike carrier to the back.

Nike+ iPod touch (or nano) App – Missed Run Syncing Issue

I’ve been using Nike+ in one form or another since I had an iPod nano. It was a light music player that could also track my runs. My first run was synced on April 15, 2008. I then transitioned to use it on an iPod touch, and now on an iPhone.

Using the service on the iPod nano and iPod touch required a shoe dongle that tracked steps and some other metrics like how long your foot was on the ground. The technology they used to track a run was based on a study conducted in 1970 at Penn State. The background is pretty interesting.

When I began using the service on the iPod nano it required you to sync the recorded runs through iTunes. It worked most times with ease but from time to time I would forget to either record the run or there would be an issue during the sync and the data would not get sent to the Nike+ site.

If I forgot to record a run, there was a site called Nike+ Edit, that is now defunct, that would create a xml file with the appropriate information that could be place in a special folder on the nano and would then be synced the next time the iPod was attached to iTunes. If I just needed to re-sync a run it was as simple as moving a file from one folder to another. Moving the files around on the nano was easy because it could be setup to be used as a hard drive, which allowed you to drill down into the hidden folder structure.

When I started using Nike+ on an iPod touch I thought it would work the same way. After every run I would plug the iPod touch into my computer and sync it with iTunes. Assuming that iTunes would then send the run data up to the Nike+ website. It did not work this way.

Since the iPod touch has its own network connection, the Nike+ app on the iPod touch was designed to send the run data via wifi directly to the Nike+ servers, no iTunes sync required. That worked fine if I ended a run at home and let the app sync to the Nike+ servers at that time. But if I ever tried to send the run data to Nike+ when not in wifi, the app would try to send the data to Nike+, fail, and then move it to the local history in the app. This happened many times. I was left with a few dozen runs that were stored on the iPod touch but were not synced to the Nike+ service.

The app gave me no option to re-send the run data to the Nike+ servers. This is probably to avoid letting people game the service and add a single run multiple times to their cumulative mile count. I thought I had lost these runs and they would never be synced to the Nike+ website.

I got to thinking that I may be able to do a similar trick I used with the nano and simply move files around in the file system. But on the iPod touch there is no Apple supplied means to see the file structure of the iPod touch. I was also hesitant to believe that the iPod touch would have the same file structure for storing the run data.

A few months passed and I came across a desktop app that lets you view an iPhone or iPod touch file structure without jailbreaking. I settled upon iExplorer, which is a free app. It helped me solve a different issue on my iPhone before I realized it would work in this application as well.

Here is how to re-sync those runs.

Connect your iPod, nano or Touch, and navigate to the following directory using iExplorer.


Amazingly the iPod Touch is setup with a similar structure as the nano was! The random number “2X345FOOBA” is the unique name of the shoe dongle you are using. If you have used more then one you will see a folder for each dongle that has been connected to the iPod.

Find the files in the directory with the dates of the runs you need to re-sync and move them into the below directory.


Now open the Nike+ app on the iPod touch and it will give you the option to send the “latest” data to Nike+. Just make sure to do this while connected to an internet connection or you will have to run through the steps all over again.

Update: Here is a screenshot of iExplorer and the folder structure. Some of the comments have mentioned that they could not drag the files from the synced folder back into the latest folder. Unfortunately I can’t figure out why that would happen. I just tried it tonight and did not seem to have any issues. If it’s still an issue for you, I would suggest contacting iExplorer support.

Great coffee as a force for peace in the world

This is a little of what I was going for with yesterday’s post.

Another thing we’ve learned is that making great coffee takes hard work, sustained over time. Coffee takes years to mature, and months to harvest, prepare, and export. Every coffee is a labor of many hands- either a number of farmers working cooperatively, or employees on a farm working together on a shared goal. Often, dry-millers and exporters are culturally and politically different than farmers, but all need to work closely together in order to do coffee well, and need to work closely and cooperatively if the coffee has any chance of being great.

Coffee Common

Coffee has become an increasing routine for Dani and I. We brew at home every weekday in the morning and sometimes on the weekends too. This was mostly spurred by Dani’s gift to me last year, we participated in Intelligentsia roasting house tour and she arranged for a private At Home Brewing class. Before the class the most elaborate we got was using a french press. By the end of the class we realized we much preferred a pour over method.

The class and tour gave me a better appreciation for coffee and what it can be. I’ve started to follow a few blogs about coffee and sometimes go through Youtube playlists of brewing method videos.

There is an interesting group calling themselves Coffee Common that is gathering at the TED conference this year that is bringing together independent roasters and baristas from around the world to serve and brew excellent coffee at the event. Photo’s from the event here.

Coffee Common brings together world-class baristas and roasters with shared values, to create unique experiences that introduce people to the nuanced joys of exceptional coffee. We believe that great coffee is, at its best, a collaboration of an empowered coffee farmer, an artisan coffee roaster, a dedicated barista, and an enlightened consumer. We believe that great coffee requires study, experimentation, craftsmanship, and humility. These diverse roasters and baristas, who by most definitions would be considered competitors, come together as a community to proselytize the simple truths around coffee. We look forward to pouring you a cup of the most complex and extraordinary beverage in the world.

This is the ethos of what Intelligentsia was preaching during the roasting Tour. What we sip from a cup is more than the end product but the sum of the roaster, world-wide trade, and the farmers. It’s an interesting way to engage a conversation about world commerce by starting with coffee. Plus I love getting a little geeky about brewing devices.