VBR #12: 'Nothing Too Big and Nothing Too Public' with guest Dana Reandelar

To start, we get to know Dana. Dana is a freelance writer that has a secret past as a talented musician. Then, as promised, Dana and I go long on Frank Ocean's Blonde.

This episode is the first to feature both the show's new color scheme and show artwork. I opted to nix the faded blue for something of higher contrast that fits the blog a little better.

Dana Reandelar didn't think that she had enough to say to be on this show. In this episode we prove that she was wrong. Dana is a music writer that has a secret past as a multi-instrumentalist. She's also up on the latest in Frank Ocean, so we spend a good deal of time dissecting Blonde.

Variable Bitrate artwork by Jacob Tender

Variable Bitrate artwork by Jacob Tender

Find the show on Twitter and on iTunes. If you'd like to sponsor the show, drop me a line here.

The Snapback Slim Deluxe, A Minimalist Leather Wallet

PHOTOS: Jacob Tender

PHOTOS: Jacob Tender

The Snapback Slim Wallet is my favorite wallet. I carry my wallet in my front pocket and hate clutter there. I have a swiss army-like key-holder for all of the doors in my life and I needed a wallet to match my minimalistic desire for a simpler way. Nick Augeri's wallet design matched my needs perfectly in 2013 and continues to now, 3 iterations deep.

In 2013, the Snapback Slim Wallet was brought to life by 239 backers on Kickstarter, collectively pledging $11,000. I was one of those, pledging $17 for "the early bird" reward tier. I grabbed an "innovator" reward tier for $15 in 2014 as the Snapback Slim 2.0 made its way onto Kickstarter as well. 806 backers pledged $18,690 to make that happen.

2015's campaign was the Snapback Slim Deluxe, an Italian leather collection based on the initial design. It took just 132 backers to top its goal and gross the project $7,288. I chipped in $89 to get both the Deluxe Sleeve and Deluxe Bi-Fold versions of the wallet. I've spent some time reviewing each of them and comparing them to past Snapbacks. Let's get into it.

In Augeri's video introduction to the first incarnation of the wallet, he demonstrated 9 cards sliding "nice and easy" into the secure-tabbed pocket. The ability to do that did not change in the second iteration of the wallet, but it certainly did in the third. The Deluxe is made out of "Premium Italian Leather," something I admittedly know very little about despite the leather-working merit badge I earned in Boy Scouts. Because of the material, the elasticity that made the Snapback 1 and 2 so great has been lost. The same number of cards still fit, but it's not as easy to get them in or out. Still, the leather looks nice although rigid. I think perhaps some time in my pocket will soften it up a bit.

IMG_2019.jpg

The Snapback Slim Deluxe Sleeve may have been inspired by the minimalist concept of the original Snapback wallet, but it adds complexity. Instead of 1 expandable pocket, the Deluxe features 1 large pocket for cash and 2 slots for cards. I've done my best to duplicate the order of my cards by putting my debit card and ID in the first position in respective sleeves, allowing easy access. That said, removing the cards isn't as easy as it was on my former wallet. It takes a pinch to remove some of the cards from their sleeves, whereas on the simpler Snapback 2.0, I just needed to slide out the end cards with my thumb. Despite the the added layers of leather, the thickness of the wallet in comparison to its predecessor is the same.

The Snapback Slim Deluxe Bi-Fold is something entirely new to the Snapback line. The Bi-fold contains two face-out card sleeves, two hidden inner pockets, and one classic Snapback strap. The layout of the wallet is clean and simplistic for its utility and is likely one of the slimmest bi-folds you'll find. I opted to use one card in each sleeve, putting the rest in the hidden slots and saving the band for cash, gift cards, and my many Mexican restaurant punch cards.

Containing the same number of cards, the Deluxe Sleeve is only 2/3 as thick as its bi-fold brother, making the decision of which to carry a difficult one. While I prefer the layout of the bi-fold, I still maintain the strong desire for a minimalistic wallet—making the sleeve the stronger option. It's my hope that carrying the sleeve will soften the leather and loosen its grip on my cards just enough to make them more accessible.

Edit: It did.

Once again, Nick Augeri has released a quality product. These aren't his most innovative wallets, but they add a level of class to the lineup. It's possible I'll end back up with the Snapback 2.0—which has held up remarkably well over the past year— but I love the look of a leather wallet and these are the best I've ever owned.

Edit: I stuck with the Slim Deluxe sleeve. I never went back.

Tumblr Changes, the Good and the Bad

I started my first Tumblr account in 2008. I used it infrequently and eventually moved fully to my Wordpress blogs in late 2009. I used self-hosted Wordpress blogs for 5 years before returning to Tumblr to begin this blog. It fits my writing needs perfectly.

I’ve noticed the changes to Tumblr over the years, but only now do those changes affect the workflows and productivity I’ve made for myself since I opened curbside.audio last year. Last week, Tumblr announced a great many changes that I’ve just begun to see on my dashboard. Let’s take a look and deconstruct.

Text Titles:

POZ Title

Here is a look at the dashboard view of a PropertyOfZack article. Look at that title. I’ve counted an average of five words per line in the titles throughout my dashboard this evening. Five.

Why the font size was increased, I’m not sure. If it’s part of the platform’s push for long-form readability, this is a major flop. I think the former font size was just fine. A dynamically scaled font size would be perfect. The longer the title, the smaller the font. This is a distracting change I’m decidedly not fond of.

Links:

SixColors Link

I see what Tumblr was going for here. Taking a number of text-form slots and condensing them into an attractive, editable, box. It looks just like the preview available on the dashboard, but it’s not very functional. It cuts off a majority of the title and is really hard to edit. Unreasonably hard. For example, once a title is parsed from a URL, you can’t click and drag a selection to delete.

SixColors Link Edit

Instead, you have to switch to your keyboard and tap your arrow keys to either make a selection or navigate to the end of the title for backspacing. Either way, you’re using a lot more keystrokes.

Markdown:

Markdown Title

The support for Markdown on Tumblr has vastly improved in the lastest update. Markdown is automatically formatted so you know you’re doing it right.[1] This is extremely helpful to those of us who choose to write this way.

The Editing Window:

Editing Tools

Aside from the improvements to Markdown, Tumblr has added a bunch of Medium-like changes to the UI. Trick is, you’ve got to use the rich text editor to access them. This is what Tumblr calls “normal.”[2]

What you get with this kit is a pop-pop menu with things to change your text. If you want to bolden, italicize, or indent your text with UI. This is how you do it. The real utility of this is that your menu is wherever you are within your article. You don’t need to scroll anywhere to find it.

Insert Media

Between lines of text, you can insert media, horizontal rules, or a read more break. This is useful for popping in images or videos after you’ve finished writing. This is not useful for HTML or Markdown users who then have to upload photos elsewhere, copy the image link, then paste it into nescessary display code.

Pasting Rich Text:

Pasting Rich Text

Finally, there is this. Pasting copied rich text results in plain text. All links and styles are stripped. This seems like a misstep because I don’t see how that is useful at all.

Conclusion:

Tumblr has obviously put a lot of thought into this set of changes, but they have made some major mistakes for those who use the platform for more than GIF sharing and wanderlusting as a majority of their users do. For a company trying to push further into long-form blogging, they’ve certainly not made it easier for those who write long-form entries. “Normal” users will really enjoy the addition of the selected text bar and easy multimedia input assistant while Markdown and HTML users continue to upload images remotely. [3]

If Tumblr truly wants to attract more long-form writers to their ecosystem, they need to look further at what companies like Wordpress, Medium, and Movable Type are doing to facilitate their users’ needs, not just how they design their UI


  1. Mostly. Bold works, bullets work, links work, but italics just go grey.  ↩

  2. This is really poor language when talking about user preference. The implication here is that anyone using Markdown or HTML is something other than normal. Atypical might be more accurate. Less usual, maybe. Not abnormal. I digress.  ↩

  3. Or using my workaround.  ↩