One Week with the Apple Watch Ultra

It’s been a week with the Apple Watch Ultra and I love it.

I like big watches in general, so the extra screen real estate is clutch. I have a few faces I’ve been using with it, depending on Focus Mode and Context:

There are a few things I really love about this watch, outside of the bigger face:

  • The incredible battery life. I can get about 2 days without charging it at all. Which means I get to use another new-to-me feature
  • Sleep tracking. I’ve never been much of a sleep tracker, but at the end of this month, I’m doing a sleep study where I’ll certainly be diagnosed with sleep apnea. I’m excited to compare the data on the watch to data from a proper study.
  • The Action Button. Right now I have it executing my “idea” shortcut, but I might change that (see below).
  • The Swipe Keyboard. I like that I don’t always have to talk to my watch.

There are a few quibbles I have, which might have less to do with the hardware, and more to do with the software:

  • Forced keyboard usage for input. I’d much rather the watch default to talking (or at least make it a setting). Because of that, I might change the Action Button, since that forces the keyboard and using voice to execute the shortcut does not.
  • No Battery Tracking. This was an issue I had on the Series 5 too. I like that I can see battery stats on my iPhone. I wish I could see it on the watch too. Some app (I think Overcast) went haywire and crushed my battery at one point.

Those are it though! Since the battery life is so good, I’ve decided I’m also going to experiment with leaving my phone at home more and rely on the watch for communication and notes. We’ll see how long it lasts.

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What’s in my Backpack (Winter 2022)

It’s 2022 and God-willing, many people will be back to traveling again! I already have 2 conferences planned1and at least 1 family vacation.

As a result I’ve reassessed by bag situation and, as an end of the year bonus, picked up a new bag. So here’s a look at everything in my travel back for 2022.

Watch the Video

If you want to watch me talk about everything in my bag, here’s a video:

Otherwise, here’s a list of everything, with links.

General Gear

I picked up the Waterfield Mezzo Laptop Backpack as an end of the year gift to myself. I’ve had my eye on it for a while. It’s pricy, but it’s the perfect size at 14.5L with just the right amount of pockets. This will replace my messanger bags and my Nomatic Backpack as my every day backpack.

One thing I love that is lacking in almost every bag I have is the nice big side pockets for my Contigo Water Bottle. It fits perfectly without being too obtrusive.

Front Pocket Stuff

Here is where I keep my EDC stuff. There is a Field Notes or Nock Co notebook, as well as the Nock Co Sinclair pen case. There’s also some business cards and extra pens.

For extra power, I have the MagSafe Battery Pack and Anker Laptop Power Bank.

When I’m not flying, I keep my SOG Pocket Knife in the front pouch. It’s small, light, and in my opinion, the perfect EDC knife.

Big Pocket Tech Stuff

The laptop in my laptop bag is an M1 MacBook Air. 2020-2021 was a time of flux for my tech stuff and I honestly thought the iPad Pro would replace my laptop, but I’m just too comfortable on it to let it go.

Plus, the iPad Mini came out, and that is the most perfect device. I have a white iPad Mini Smartfolio2, the Apple Pencil, and the Canopy by Studio Neat + Apple Magic Keyboard for when I’m typing.

Misc Tech and Cables

On top of the tech stuff, I have some important accessories, like the Anker Slim Charger, a super skinny 30W charger I can use for my laptop and iPad. I also have USB-C to USB-C cables, and USB-C to lightning, as well as a Satechi Slim Hub. On big trips, I have a separate tech bag with tons of cables, but the ones I keep in my backpack are generally good for day or weekend trips.


I love listening to music and podcasts, so it’s no surprise that I have multiple headphone-based things in my backpack. The AirPods Pro go everywhere with me. I also got a nice black leather AirPods Pro Case from Nomad, as well as Foam Tips that fit better in my ears.

If I’m going someplace where I want over-the-ear headphones, that job goes to my newly acquired AirPods Max. The smart case they come with is an abomination, so I also got the AirPods Max Case from Waterfield, which does lower power mode.

Big Pocket Analog Stuff

I always have my William Hannah notebook on me. It’s a totally customizable binder-based notebook where I do my weekly planning and keep notes. I also have my Theme System Journal, where I keep my daily thoughts, notes, and habit tracking.

That’s Everything!

I’m excited to take my new backpack out on the road, both for day trips and big travel. What do you keep in your bag? Is there anything you want me to elaborate on?

Let me know in the comments!

  1. Including Craft + Commerce. Let me know if you’re going! ?
  2. Though I’ll probably get the purple one since the white gets SO dirty. ?
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Who is iPhone 13 Pro Really For?

One of the core beliefs at Apple is telling a good story; it’s weaved into everything they do — every product, service, and publication. I mean, have you seen their 2021 Holiday commercial, Saving Simon? It’s really good1.

Something you’ll notice with that commercial is that it opens by telling you it was shot on iPhone 13 Pro. And in-fact that story they told at the iPhone event in September, about iPhone 13 Pro, was that it’s for movie makers and cinematographers. That’s a fun story. It might even work. But that’s not who iPhone 13 Pro is actually for. That’s just the story. That’s why they call it “Pro.”

But if it’s not for movie makers, who is it really for?

What Movie Makers Actually Use

When Apple rolled out their $6,000 Pro Display XDR, with not so optional $1,000 stand, they talked about how it’s for a specific type of creator. The type of creator who who would spend $30,000 on similar types of displays. Those creators are also, likely, making movies. They need reference monitors to make sure their cameras are capturing the scenes as perfectly as possible.

If they are spending $30,000 to make sure their reference monitors have the truest colors, do you think that Sophia Coppola, Aaron Sorkin, or Stephen Spielberg would settle for shooting their movies on a 4K iPhone? Nah. Hell, MKBHD — a very popular tech YouTuber — famously uses RED cameras, which start around $6,000 and quickly increase from there.

So while Apple can tell this great story, iPhone 13 Pro, with all of its cinematic prowess, is actually for someone else: content creators like you and me.

The iPhone 13 Pro is for Content Creators

My video recording kit is above average, and excluding the audio gear, it costs less than $1,700. With my Shure SM7B and Rodecaster Pro, it clocks in around $2600.

But that’s something I’ve invested in over years…and it’s something I felt like I needed to do as a course creator and podcaster for hire. But if you’re just starting on YouTube, or even if you’ve been doing it for a bit but can’t invest $2,000 in a set up, iPhone 13 Pro is perfect.

It’s got 4K on both the back and front camera. It’s got cinematic mode, which allows you to blur backgrounds…and that works pretty darn good.

It can be mounted on a tripod and connected to your computer. Heck, with the right apps, you can even use it as webcam.

Recording great looking videos for YouTube, your course, or even to release your podcast in video format, has never been easier, thanks to iPhone 13 Pro.

If you are a content creator, the iPhone 13 Pro is for you. It allows you to look like the pros, without dropping thousands of dollars of gear like the pros.

I’d argue the iPhone 13 Pro is called “pro” because it makes you a pro. Not because actually for pros.

So…what do you need to use your iPhone as a camera?

Setting Up Your iPhone to Record Video

There are a few ways you can get this accomplished, and we’ll cover 2: straight recording (then editing), and live streaming.

Straight Recording

I think the simplest solution is a tripod for your iPhone with a remote or timer. You’ll also want good lighting; since this is such a mobile setup, you can likely find some good natural lighting. Here is my recommendation:

When it comes to recording, your workflow should work best for you. If that’s editing right on your iPhone, go for it! There are a few good apps, like iMovie or Luma Fusion. If you want to transfer it to your computer, AirDrop, iCloud Sync, or via USB all work. Then you can edit how you’d like2.

Live Streaming

Live streaming is a bit more complicated because you can’t just plug your iPhone in and use it as a camera. Luckily, there are apps for that.

eCamm Live + Shoot

My personal favorite is eCamm Live. This is streaming software that allows you to use your iPhone (or iPad) as an input device…mostly for screen sharing. However, you can also pick up the simple app, Shoot, which will give you a clean camera feed…without any of the buttons or sensors.

Plug your phone into your Mac, open this app on your phone, and and set the input / camera in eCamm Live to the iPhone. You’l’l have a clean camera feed using your iPhone.

Note: If you use OBS, there’s the iOS Camera Plugin, but I was unable to get that to work reliably when I tried it a couple of years ago.

Use Your iPhone as a Web Cam with Cam

Another popular solution (and one that doesn’t require streaming software) is Reincubate’s Camo app. The is cross platform for iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows, and works this way:

  1. Get the Camo app for your iPhone
  2. Get the Camo app for your computer
  3. Plug your iPhone into your computer

It’s free to try, then $5/month, $39/year, or $79 for life to use3. And Camo works with anything that uses a webcam…including Zoom, Meet, and whatever app your record your videos in!

Become a Content Creating Pro

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on gear to make yourself look like a professional content creator. With the right tools, all you need is your iPhone.

Are you using your iPhone to record and upload videos? Let me know if you have any tips in the comments below!

  1. I definitely did “not” tear up. ?
  2. Post on editing software coming soon! ?
  3. I don’t see a way where using it for like 2 months then upgrading to lifetime doesn’t make sense. ?

The Best Home Automation Device of 2021: Lutron Aurora Dimmer Switch

I love to automate everything. Sometimes it’s overkill. But it usually results in some cool things. With Shortcuts being available on the Mac now, for example, I can push a button on my Stream Deck, set the lighting in my office for recording, put my phone into the Recording Focus Mode, and set my “podcast recording”timer in Toggl.

But this isn’t about any of that1. This is about a general home automation device. The best one I’ve seen all year: the Lutron Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer Switch.

A Smart Home Device for People Who Don’t Like Smart Devices

One of my goals when we bought our house was to basically connect everything to the internet that could be. My only requirement is it works with both HomeKit and Alexa2. Phillips Hue lights fill that requirement nicely.

So I installed smart bulbs everywhere. And I quickly realized a problem that some great automators of our time have warned of: people will still use the switches and knobs to which the blubs are attached, rendering them useless. This could be kids, parents, or energy conscious visitors who don’t know you have a voice controlled home.

And let me tell you: messing around with electrical boxes to install smart switches is not my favorite thing.

That’s where the Lutron Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer Switch comes in.


This small device connects to either a specific Phillips Hue bulb, room, or scene, and can control the lights by dimming them with the knob, or turning the lights off and on by pressing it.

Super Easy Installation

And the best part? SUPER simple installation. Put the mount on top of the switch, secure it with a couple twists of a screwdrivers, then snap the dimmer on top of it. It took me 2 minutes tops to install and connect the thing.

After trying it in my son’s room, I’m absolutely buying one for every room with smart lights.

If you are looking for a simple solution for your smart switch woes, I highly recommend the Lutron Aurora Smart Bulb Dimmer Switch.

  1. Don’t worry. Subscribe on YouTube and you’ll get a video soon. ?
  2. …and if it works with HomeKit, it almost definitely works with Alexa. ?

Why Gear Matters Least When You’re Starting a Podcast

I’ll just get this out of the way now: I love me some gear. I’m an early adopter when it comes to tech, I like trying out new stuff, and A/V gear has become a bit of a hobby for me. However, when I first started my podcast, I was less concerned with the perfect mic, and more interested in a decent mic.

If you’re thinking about starting a podcast, but you’re worried you don’t sound perfect, STOP. Gear should be the least of your worries when you’re starting a podcast. Here’s why.

It’s Easier to Talk About Gear Than Almost Anything Else

You might think as you look at podcast resources, videos, and advice columns, that the pursuit for the perfect mic is tantamount to the success of your podcast. That’s because it’s easy for a lot of people to talk about gear. It’s a concrete concept – perhaps the most concrete concept when it comes to starting your show.

That content isn’t necessarily just for beginners either. I upgraded my mic 3 or 4 times1 before settling on what will be my “very long time” mic, the Shure SM7b.

Constantly recommending gear also allows content creators to make money off of affiliate links. Take it from me: I made $3,000 from Amazon affiliate links alone last year, after they reduced commission percentages. Most of that came from people buying gear I recommended. There are even affiliate links in this post.

Talking About Gear Isn’t Bad

I’ll just say right here that talking about gear isn’t bad. I do it and plan to continue doing it for some of the reasons above. It makes money, it’s fun to talk about, and honestly, it’s content that does well. People are curious to get a peek on the other side of the camera or mic.

They like to see how things are done, and I’m very willing to share. That sharing helps them get ideas, and it helps me improve. Thanks to some YouTube comments, I was able to improve my mic technique and fix a slight frame rate issue that offset the audio from the video ever-so-slightly.

BUT there’s too much of an emphasis on that for beginner podcasters.

“You Have to Sound Perfect” is Terrible Advice

Recently I was having a conversation with someone that got the impression from professional podcasters that even starting out, you need to sound perfect.

This is terrible advice.

First of all, most of us are never going to sound “perfect.” We aren’t in a sound booth, with a producer, and a team of audio engineers. But I know that’s not what people mean when they say that.

They mean you need to spend a lot of money on a mic, interface, and good recording software. You don’t. If you feel this way, you’ll never launch your podcast.

Start off Simple

Here’s what you should know about gear and sound:

  1. Don’t sound like you’re recording in a bathroom stall.
  2. Try to reduce echo and don’t use the built-in mic.
  3. Use headphones when you record so the sound from your speakers doesn’t go back into your mic.

If you absolutely need a mic recommendation, I have 2 depending on budget:

  1. The ATR-2100x if you can spend around $100
  2. The Shure SM47-LC if you’re looking for sub-$50.

These are both USB mics, so they’re the only gear you’ll need assuming you already have a pair of headphones. They are also both dynamic mics, making them more forgiving of your recording environment.

What Should You Focus On?

So if gear matters least, what matters most? Content. The perfect mic can’t make you podcast consistently just like the perfect task manager won’t make you more productive. They help you do. They don’t do.

When you’re starting a podcast, your main focus should be content. Come up with 20-30 episode ideas. Record a couple of demos. Figure out a schedule that works for you.

Fight Podfade2 by getting ahead of your schedule and having a bunch of episodes ready to go before you launch. Then batch your content so you’re not constantly struggling to keep up.

Buy a basic dynamic mic, then record your content. I mean, how upset would you be if you spent $1,000 on audio gear just to use it a few times and then give up?

Improve as You Go Along

One of the problems with “sounding perfect” right off the bat is you don’t know what perfect is for you. Sure, you know what professional podcasters sound like. But they aren’t you.

I’m no Paul O’Neill

My favorite baseball player growing up was Paul O’Neill. He was on my favorite team (The Yankees), we both played Right Field, and we both played the drums. I loved his swing. In my efforts to become a great baseball player, I wanted to perfect my home run swing. But I couldn’t just emulate his.

For one, he’s a lefty and I’m a righty. He’s tall and skinny. I’m short and portly. My perfect swing is different from his. My perfect pitch to hit is different from his.

Similarly, sounding “perfect” is something you’ll need to work at over time. Your voice is different from other voices. Your environment is different. Your content, confidence, and cadence are different.

You won’t know what to work on unless you start doing.

Done is Better Than Perfect

If you wait until your podcast is 100% perfect, you’ll never launch. So instead, launch, and then work on getting better. Focus on creating good content, have a bunch of episodes recorded in advanced.

Worry about your gear once you have a good process for being consistent under your belt.


  1. Samson, Blue Yeti, Rode Procaster, Shure SM7B ?
  2. According to AmplifiMedia, 75% of podcasts become inactive. Most don’t make it past 7 episodes. ?

Using an iPhone 12 Pro Max as an Overhead Camera for Live Streams

I’ve been putting a lot more effort into my live streams lately. Thanks to better tools like eCamm Live and my Stream Deck, I can manage things a bit better and it doesn’t feel like a completely overwhelming process. One of the problems I was trying to solve was having a good overhead camera so I can do unboxings, writing, sketching, etc. Here’s how I set it up.

Read More “Using an iPhone 12 Pro Max as an Overhead Camera for Live Streams”

How I Light my Live Streams: Automated Lighting Setups

One of my biggest pieces of advice for people getting into video (or even doing virtual talks) is, “Have good lighting.” This will make you look better, and your webcam won’t have to work as hard, meaning a better picture. There are some simple solutions, but I wanted something a little more automated. Here’s what I’ve got!

Read More “How I Light my Live Streams: Automated Lighting Setups”

A Mic For Every Stage Of Podcasting & Live Streaming

Recently I wrote about how to host a webinar or live stream, which entry level gear. But after my friend Rian reached out to me, I realized I don’t have a single resources with gear for every level. While my gift guide for podcasters has a lot of that info, it’s not super clear and has a lot of other stuff. In this post, I’ll give you a few options for a mic at every level.

Read More “A Mic For Every Stage Of Podcasting & Live Streaming”
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Testing the iPhone + Rode Pod Mic Movie Setup

I’ve been experimenting with ways to easily use my iPhone as the main camera for my videos, and made some headway when I learned I could use my Zoom H5 as an XLR interface for iOS devices. In this video, we’ll see what my iPhone recording setup looks like, and how I’ll use it moving forward.

Read More “Testing the iPhone + Rode Pod Mic Movie Setup”