The Unpacked Podcast Episode 4 – Developing Habits

Jordan and Niki discuss developing habits, finding keystone habits in your life, and giving grace when we inevitably fall short. Chock-full of book recommendations and quotatious quotes.

Cogs

You’ll hear quotes like, “I didn’t grow up in the floss” and hear about the newly conceived Donut Willpower Theory.

Check us out in iTunes here or visit our podcast website.

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Quick Tip: Getting Deals on Apps with App Shopper

I’m unashamedly an app lover.

My wife and I joke about who spends more money on their favorite things–me on apps or her on clothes. We’ve ruled it a toss up for now.

To stretch my app budget as far as possible, I keep an eye on apps and snag them when they are on sale.

quick-tip-logo

The best way I’ve found to track apps and be alerted at discounts is through the app and website App Shopper.

You can add apps to your wish lists via the app or website and have email alerts or push notifications sent to you when the price (hopefully) drops.

Here’s a screenshot of my some apps currently on my wish list.

 

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I’ll also check out the app activity and see how often the app gets a discount. If it’s rare, I’ll normally just buy it right away. If it goes on sale regularly, like 1Password, I’ll wait for another heartbleed bug or sale weekend.

Here’s the recent app activity for 1Password for iOS. You can find it on the right side of the App Shopper site or down at the bottom of an app’s details on the app.

 

1Password App Activity

 

The website shows apps for iOS and the Mac App store, while the iOS app only shows iOS apps and prices.

Support app developers and take it easy on your wallet, all thanks to App Shopper. You can grab the free app or visit the website.

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The Best Podcast Player on iOS: Pocket Casts

If it was still 2007, I’d say, “Podcasts are the next big thing.”

But, well, I kind of missed the prediction boat, so I’m going to hop on the podcasts-are-amazing bandwagon instead.

One of my favorite things about our current world is that we have unlimited choices.

I choose not to listen to terrestrial radio1. I have no control over the song selection or content. The ads are rarely relevant. There are far more interesting things by lesser-known people who have more to say.

Instead, I mostly listen to podcasts.

I’ve mentioned a few of my favorite podcasts before, and we’ve even started a podcast, but I haven’t shared my favorite way to listen to them.

I nearly exclusively listen to podcasts on my iPhone. Some people listen on their laptop, but I’m often walking around, washing dishes, or commuting when I’m listening, making a phone the perfect solution. It’s loud enough that I don’t need headphones, convenient enough to pop in my pocket if I’m on the move, and portable and able to connect to a car stereo for my commutes.

So what’s the best way to listen to podcasts on your iPhone? My choice is Pocket Casts.

Design

This app is beautiful–completely stunning in every way. The design is what first wooed me away from Downcast.

Pocket Casts incorporates the colors of the podcast artwork into the buttons and player for each show, which is a tiny but awesome design touch.

5by5@2x

When you’re perusing your other podcasts but already have a ’cast playing, there’s a nice little bar at the bottom that enables you to return to your currently playing podcast, which is handy and convenient.

You can also create playlists or just click play next when you want to line up multiple podcasts in a row.

The app has syncing if you’re using it across multiple iOS devices, and the iPad version is just as slick.

This is the podcast app Apple should have created.

Customization

You can skip the intro music on podcasts and configure them in two-second increments. I don’t care about the show title or intro music, which is how most podcasts start, and most podcasts have the same amount of time in the beginning of a show. That means I can get right to the meat of things instead of hearing the fluff.

You can configure the skip forward and skip backward buttons to whatever time you want–I personally like 30 seconds for going forward and 15 seconds for going backward. That allows me to skip any topics or parts of the show I don’t care about, but also to flip back a bit in case I missed something.

You can rearrange podcasts to show up in any way you’d like–or have it set to arrange based on podcasts with the newest episode.

You can choose which podcasts download automatically, when episodes should be deleted, and you can make the settings apply to all of your podcasts or tweak them individually.

There’s even more than that, but I can’t imagine you’ll find that Pocket Casts left out a feature you were hoping for.

Find New Podcasts

From the main screen, there’s a “+” in the upper right corner that with a simple tap enables you to find and add new podcasts. You can search, view top charts, browse categories and podcast networks.

It’s easy to add new podcasts and search the iTunes directory. You can copy and paste a podcast feed link and it automagically asks if you want to add to add that to your podcast list.

I’ve found a number of new podcasts by cruising through the beautiful podcast discovery interface in Pocket Casts, and it’s much easier to find new shows here than it is in the traditional Podcasts app.

Check Out Show Notes

Most (good) podcasts also include links, pictures and more information in show notes. If a podcaster is doing things correctly, those show notes are accessible through Pocket Casts.

All you need to do is click on the title (not the play button) of a podcast episode you have in your directory and you can see the show notes for that episode. That’s much easier than going to the website to view them.

Wrapping Up

Overall, Pocket Casts makes listening to podcasts on your iOS device an absolute dream. I’m ruined from using any apps on my Mac because the listening experience is so darn convenient.

Pony up the $4 and snag Pocket Casts, which is a universal app for all of your iOS devices.

If you ever decide to make a switch from Pocket Casts, the app gives you the ability to export all of your podcast subscriptions and bring them over to another player. Convenience is at this apps core.

If you’re looking for a podcast to test out Pocket Casts with, I heartily recommend The Unpacked Podcast.

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  1. I’ve noted on our podcast that I use the term “terrestrial radio” in a derogatory manner. That’s not the term’s original intent–it was used to differentiate between AM / FM and Satellite radio, but I prefer to use it as a diss.

Quick Tip: Enabling Category Sinking Funds in YNAB

My favorite budgeting app is YNAB, which has an amazing desktop and iPhone version.

The main idea behind YNAB is moving beyond paycheck-to-paycheck living, so they suggest spending last month’s salary this month so you can escape the rat race.

quick-tip-logo

This is enabled by subtracting any amount you went over by in any budgeted categories from your total salary for the next month.

So, if you spend $50 more than you budgeted last month, this month you have $50 less dollars overall to budget. Pretty simple.

However, our budget is fairly stable, and we like to let certain categories go slightly into the negative, especially categories like gifts. Some months we have don’t have any birthday or wedding gifts to buy and other months we make it rain.

There’s an option to have each category carry over to function as a sinking fund instead of improperly budgeted categories affecting  your whole budget. We prefer each category to carry its own balance.

For example, in June we were $9.74 over on our gifts budget. So, instead of that $9 and some change coming out of our total money available to budget for July, we have it carry over in the specific gifts category and carry a slight negative balance in that specific digital envelope.

YNAB category

It’s simple to enable. On the desktop version of YNAB, just go to Budget and then click on the number under the balance column. Then, click the button next to “Subtract it from next month’s category balance” instead of the “Subtract it from next month’s Available to Budget.”

You’ll have to enable this for every category you want to carry over, and you’ll know it’s carrying over if there is a little red arrow next to the total.

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Roasting Your Own Coffee for Under $100

Coffee snobbery is easier than you think.

This entire guide is basically brought to you by the fine folks at Sweet Maria’s, because they have a monopoly on teaching people how to cheaply roast their own coffee from home. You can check out their instructions for home roasting here.

Also, you’ll be happy to know there’s a new episode of The Unpacked Podcast all about “Brewing Better Coffee” released today.

Without further ado, here’s how you can get neck-deep in the fresh-coffee-roasting-at-home game.

1. Order a hot air popcorn popper.

We snagged the West Bend Air Crazy on Amazon for just over $20. This is what you’ll use to roast your fresh coffee beans. It’s far, far cheaper than traditional roasting methods, and way better than heating beans up on the stove top or in your oven because of the way the hot air roasts the beans.

The West Bend Air Crazy, with a net to catch chaff.

2. Order a coffee sampler from Sweet Maria’s.

We order the 8-pound sampler to making the $9 shipping charge worth it. They also have a 4 pound option. It’s helpful to know which locations in the world have the best tasting coffee for you. I’m partial to African coffees because they have fruity notes and a more dynamic, interesting taste as opposed to a South American coffee that tastes like most of the coffees you’ve had at your local breakfast diner.

In general, after shipping, you’ll end up paying $7 – $9 per pound, which is more than Folgers, but less than local and fancy roasters.

A bag of fresh green coffee beans from Sweet Maria’s.

3. Anxiously await the arrival of your popcorn popper and coffee.

This is the hard part.

4. Gather all your supplies.

We used to measure things out using a kitchen scale and get really precise with a timer. But honestly, when you’re roasting with a popcorn popper, it’s an ever-moving target. The heat constantly changes based on how many roasts you’ve recently done and based on the temperature of wherever you’re roasting.

Currently, we use:

  • A West Bend Air Crazy popcorn popper to roast the beans
  • Sieve to cool beans after roasting
  • A baking sheet with raised edges to cool beans (and keep them from sliding off)
  • Mason jars too store the beans (this isn’t proper or best, but it’s cheap)
  • Something to collect the chaff – originally we used a wet paper towel with the popcorn popper’s plastic hood on. Then my dad offered a mesh netting that’s used for straining paint. I’m guessing you can buy it in a home improvement store, but I’ve never looked.
  • A wooden spoon to mix the beans up if you can’t get them moving in the popper.
  • Gloves. This is kind of ridiculous (especially when it’s hot out) but man the popper gets HOT and so do the beans (obviously) so some type of glove is helpful to be able to handle things.

5. Watch, listen, smell.

The beans will begin to turn brown. We like a medium to dark medium roast, but the darkness of the roast changes the flavors. We do ours pretty much to the same color, but Sweet Maria’s has suggestions for what roast to do for each bean. Also, here’s Sweet Maria’s guide to what color is what type of roast. Understanding what level of roast the beans are at is hard to determine. You’ll hear beans begin to crack, and most roasts should wrap up shortly (30 to 90 seconds) after the first crack and before the second crack. If it starts to smell bad, that’s normal. If it smells really bad, it’s probably time to pull the beans out.

A comparison of the beans–before and after roasting

Other tips

  1. Precision is practically impossible. This is a hood-rat setup. That’s ok, you’re still on pace for the best cup of coffee you’ve likely ever had.
  2. You can shake your popper to move the beans around. The goal is to have an even roast. That can be hard. I shake the sense out of our roaster to get the beans swirling in the beginning.
  3. Forget how long it takes. Some beans take longer than others.
  4. You can put in more beans than you think. We started with only 2.5oz of beans in the popper, but now we fill the chamber ¾ of the way. It takes a little longer per batch, but overall you’re getting more roasting done this way.
  5. Don’t worry about screwing up. We haven’t burnt a single batch. Some coffees we didn’t care for us much, but almost all were better than your average cup of joe.
  6. Try a couple brew methods. A drip coffee maker is not going to do the trick. I suggest an AeroPress or a Chemex. We’ve fallen in love with the Chemex. It takes a bit longer than AeroPress, but you can make more and it’s delicious. Some coffees taste better in one method than the other. If it tastes funky, try a different way, because a bland or boring coffee in one method could be outstanding in a different method. We explore the different methods a bit in this podcast episode.
  7. Enjoy the process. How many hipsters roast their own coffee? Niki and I like giving away our coffee we roast as a gift with the Shark Coffee Co label. Shark Coffee Co
  8. Drink the coffee within a few weeks. Some people say the taste peaks around 7 – 10 days. Definitely wait at least overnight to let the CO2 escape (be sure to leave the lid on a mason jar cracked to let the air escape) and feel free to brew the next morning.

The finished product.

Basically, with a $20 popcorn popper, $30 – $50 worth of beans, a $20 – $40 brewing apparatus and some tools you probably have around your house, you can make the most amazing cup of you’ve ever had, and much cheaper than going out for coffee every morning.

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