You can’t grow up in tech and not feel obliged to share an end-of-year wrap-up. So without further ado - here is mine for 2022.
Best Album - Pacifica’s 2022
Less album, and just more every track they have put out this year has been gold. GOLD JERRY!
Best Song - Rick Astley - abcdefu (GAYLE Cover)
I don’t know if you know, but Rick Astley is more than Rick Rolling. He has an active youtube channel where he covers music he enjoys. His taste knows no bounds, and it has introduced me to songs I wouldn’t have otherwise listened to.
I knew this song from my Wife, who repeated it for a month or more, and I like Rick’s version better.
Best Book - The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
I know it wasn’t published in 2022, but it is as poignant now as it was in 2012, if not more so. No book left me thinking more than this one throughout the year.
- The Road to Unfreedom - I wanted to understand some of Modern Russia’s history and the impacts of the war in Ukraine. This book was instrumental.
- Why the Dutch are Different - I have felt an affinity with the Dutch for most of my life. Living and working there cemented much of that affinity in my adult life. I love the explanations for some of the peculiarities Ben delivers as an ex-pat himself.
- Hush-Kit book of Warplanes - I don’t work in aviation anymore, but I think about it often. It will always be that passion that gnaws at my mind and stops me in my tracks to look skyward at the plane passing over. This book is a 10-course tasting menu of aviation history and facts with some personal stories sprinkled throughout. So good.
- Sex with Presidents - Nothing changed my perspective about influential people more than this book for 2022. Some will find the subject matter offputting, but I instead appreciate the humanity attached to central figures in our history.
- A Bathroom Book for People Not Pooping or Peeing but Using the Bathroom as an Escape - To say I am salty about Joe Pera’s show being cancelled is the understatement of 2022. Sure some of that is the pureness of humanity he portrayed of my home state, but also, it was the nuanced humour he provided. This book is in written form some of that humour that we eagerly placed in our WC for guests. I hope they find solace if they, too, are escaping.
Best English TV Show - Slow Horses
I love a good spy show. This one is top-notch and worth the investment for the slow burn at the beginning.
Best Foreign TV Show - Shtisel / שטיסל
I didn’t expect this one either, but what a gripping show. I cherish the time I spent in Israel during my adult life, and the foreignness of the Orthodox community, on the whole, made this show much more gripping. Instead of being different TV, it was a lens into a community I frankly had no understanding of.
Biggest TV Show Surprise - Babylon Berlin
After not really enjoying the last season, I needed another show to run to and re-visited this one. Watching the story unravel as Hitler rises to power has been unique and engaging in a way I did not expect.
Best Podcast - Were Not Wrong
Independently I love all of their podcasts, but their being together on a panel show is consistently one of my first listens as it is released. The three of them provide their unique take and perspectives that are refreshing and insightful. I highly recommend it.
Best Podcast Episode - Who Actually Survives a Nuclear War?
Andrew Heaton outdid himself on this episode. I reference, think, and share tidbits often. I am not a prepper by any stretch, but this episode made me glad to live in rural Michigan.
Best Movie - All Quiet on the Western Front
I didn’t expect it would be possible to top the original All Quiet on the Western Front, but it did. AQOTWF is amazing for conquering the near-impossible task of being as good as the first.
Best Tech Purchase - Samsung Galaxy Fold4
I held off on joining the foldable world until the devices were a little more resilient. I treat my phones poorly and cannot trust myself with a machine incapable of being outside or wet. After carrying around multiple devices for years, there is something MAGICAL about having a phone, tablet, and mini desktop computer all in my pocket. I no longer have to worry about syncing my app profiles, making sure the media is sync’d off our Plex server before a trip, or having SSH keys all coordinated.
I still get excited to hear that slight “click” when it closes.
There is a lot of space for improvement. I have played with the Huawei and Oppo devices abroad and can see where the tech is going. The crease on the screen (it disappears after a few seconds to your eyes), the potato front camera, the space between the fold, etc. The device has excellent stamina compared to my S21 battery life, which was atrocious. The combo of new CPU/GPU and improved OS mgmt. will make that extra space in the device more useful for batteries.
It is still a THICC device but compared to an iPad, phone, and personal laptop; it’s a lot lighter. We have crossed the threshold - carrying a foldable phone is safe.
Best Gaming Purchase - Steam Deck
I love gaming, and it’s what started my adventures in tech. With that said, life gets in the way. Whether it was beginning the PS4 after a few months turned off only to be greeted with hours of updates or my library of games being re-purchased for the following device (hi Switch), it just became aspirational versus actual.
The Steam Deck has transformed my gaming experience from short bursts of patching + limited gaming to actually, get this, finishing a game. From playing on a long international flight to picking it up while my daughter is engrossed in the latest Pixar movie, I can utilise my library of purchases over the past 19 years I have had a steam account. Side note: Holy smokes, 19 years!?!?!?
The emulation and retro gaming are value-added, but it doesn’t play into my usage profile as much as I expected. While I initially spent time setting up the shapes and box art, I didn’t have time to maintain it. Every so often, though, I find myself playing through some Link to the Past.
Right now, I still classify this device as a little centred on geeky types but very usable, as I outline in my review. The next version will be an absolute beast, and I am so excited about what gaming will look like moving forward.
Best Hacker Purchase - Flipper Zero
I love RF (thanks, Dad!), and this device has given me so much joy hacking into the various transmitters around the house, NFC cards at work, etc. The community continues to add exciting capabilities, and the breakout board provides much expansion.
I will only get into a little here other than to say if you like hacking the physical world, it is a great little device to learn.
Best Music Player - Plexamp
For many years I spent countless hours ripping and purchasing non-DRM tracks from various services. I was that guy with folders full of XMMS/Winamp skins and m3u playlists generated for multiple perspectives of that library.
Spotify, though, was just sOooOoOo accessible.
That was until my Wife & Daughter started destroying my daily playlist recommendations with Moana’s greatest hits and Crossfit/TikTok EDM remixes. I love them both dearly, but sharing an account was causing issues, and I refused to pay for multiple.
Additionally, I would find myself a few miles into a run only to have my Wife takeover the listening. It had to stop, and I continued to support artists throughout the years. Still, I had drastically cut back on “physical” purchases because Spotify would randomly cut off access to my German music on returning home.
What started as a fun beta project has become my defacto listening platform. Not just because of the issues with Spotify outlined above, it is a fantastic player. Sonic journeys, random playlists, and being able to do offline tracks are phenomenal.
It has transformed my music consumption. It is that good.