» Turning This Car Around #44: Jews Don’t Drink Eggnog

On this week’s edition of America’s most American dadcast, we catch up with Lex who was traveling last week and talk about the holidays.

» The Rebound #14: Eric Schmidt is a Dog

Some killer analysis in this episode about how bad iTunes 12 is, how awesome Crossy Road is and whether or not Google chairman Eric Schmidt is, in fact, a dog.

» Understanding Satellites

My smartypants PhD brother was on Lab Out Loud last week talking about his book Crowded Orbits and the history of satellites. He’s very knowledgeable about this stuff but one of the hosts had a question that involved Stargate and I don’t think Clay has any idea what Stargate was. I’m pretty sure my answer would have been funnier. And less informative.

Anyway, if you’re interested in hearing someone named “Moltz” on a podcast and are tired of listening to me (and, really, who can blame you?), give this a try. It’s an interesting listen.

First Annual Very Nicest Awards

The staff and crew here at the Very Nice Web Site (read: me) are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2014 Very Nicest Awards. After culling through literally some products, we (me) have determined that these products stand head and shoulders above the rest. Our (my) congratulations to all the winners of these seemingly random categories!

Very Nicest Game: Monument Valley

Simply gorgeous. And, it featured reasonably-priced in-app purchases that made people who seem to think developers should work for free crazy. Crazier. Whatever. Still a win.

Very Nicest Guilty Pleasure Game: Crossy Road

So much time spent on this game. Such a delight. So pointless. What am I doing with my life?

Very Nicest Party Game: Uzu 3

It’s not even a game, really, but put an iPad with this running on the table at your next party. Guaranteed to break the ice.

Very Nicest New Installment to a Game Series (oh, come on, this is just a random list now): Kingdom Rush Origins

Every bit as good as its previous two installments, both of which are great games. Fun and just the right amount of challenge to not be annoyingly simple or hard.

Very Nicest iPhone: The iPhone 5s

You heard me. The iPhone 5s was the sweet spot for size. Here’s hoping 2015 brings us a 4-inch iPhone with the updated feature set.

No, you’re stupid.

Very Nicest Book: The Martian

Pop quiz, hot shot: You’re stuck alone on Mars for two years. What do you do? What do you do? The Martian is a fast and fun read. You can easily get it in before the movie with Matt Damon comes out. Actually, you can probably get it in before dinner.

Very Nicest Holiday Meat: Duck

Won’t you consider murdering and eating a duck this holiday season? Unlike turkey, their meat is juicy and delicious. And frankly, the turkeys could use a break. Plus, mallards are kind of assholes.

Very Nicest App I Haven’t Even Figured Out Yet: Workflow

Automator for iOS is a very apt description. Check out Federico Viticci’s review of Workflow to get an idea of what it can do. It’s worth it just for the animated GIFs of my poodle I’m going to make with it. At some point someone is going to say to you “Why don’t you just Workflow that?” and you don’t want to be the idiot who doesn’t have Workflow.

Very Nicest Math and Calculation App for iOS: Soulver

Every day I help my son with his math homework. Every day I use Soulver. Soulver is perfect for this use case (as well as about a million more) because it shows the problem and the solution. It also lets you change parts of the problem inline to show how the results change.

Very Nicest Movie: Probably something I didn’t see

I mean, I loved Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy but let’s get real. I dunno. The Imitation Game? Let’s just say it’s that. I haven’t seen it but that Benelux Cummerbund is good in everything.

(I have now lost complete control of this list. Please call the authorities. I need a covert extraction and strategic carpet bombing of the list from high altitude.)

Very Nicest Podcast: Yours!

You’re so funny! And your insights about cars and comic books and technology? Brilliant.

I’m sorry. That’s cynical. And far too obviously about me. Besides, it’s probably Serial. I haven’t heard it, but I’m gonna say it’s Serial. Yours is second. Second’s still pretty good. Look, it’s just an honor to be mentioned, OK?

(Desperate cry for help.)

Very Dumbest Year-End List: This one.

Aaaand fin.

Phew. Now I know why I don’t do these.

More adapter options

In response to my piece on MacBook power adapters and the replacement thereof, I got a few suggestions other than where to stick my MacBook power adapter.

iFixit does, of course, have a how-to on repairing your MacBook power adapter. That smacks of work to me but maybe you like that kind of thing?

If you have an adapter that only makes a connection when the wire is held in a certain way (and, hey, haven’t we all felt that we can only make a connection when held in a certain way?), Sugru is a moldable glue that turns into rubber. Ideally, you’d put this stuff on before it breaks to reinforce the wire (and, hey, isn’t being reinforced before we break what we all OK, I’ll stop). Personally, it looks like future technology to me so you might want to get some just to have around in case of zombie, robot or alien apocalypse.

» ‘Watching someone else play Minecraft’

I joined Allen Pike and Nigel Brooke on Up Up Down Down to talk about Minecraft and all its various appeals and aggravations.

» Hacking the system

Smile’s clever use of App Store bundles to handle upgrade pricing not only works but I can’t see how Apple could say it’s not valid.

Hope I didn’t jinx it. I just jinxed it, didn’t I.

I would think Apple even foresaw it would be used like this but they didn’t promote it that way.

» Turning This Car Around #43: Holiday Johns

Special guest John Gruber sits in for Lex this week on America’s most delightfully droll dadcast.

» Transmit for iOS re-approved

Yay! The process of approving and then un-approving and then getting them to re-approve by making a big fuss over it works!

Groan.

The MacBook replacement adapter problem

What’s that? You want 600 words on buying replacement MacBook power adapters? OK, here you go.

If you’re anything like me (seek medical attention), you have a problem with MacBook power adapters. Unlike the MacBook itself, the adapter cable is made of rubber and what? Copper? Some conducting stuff. Franklinium? Anyway, it’s some stuff that doesn’t really like to be bent, covered up by stuff that bends like crazy. It’s madness. It’ll never work! And the box part is plastic surrounding some electronics and, I assume, a prodigious amount of coal or wadded up newspaper. Something that might just decide to combust one day.

I’m not an electrical engineer, but I’m pretty sure I have this 100 percent correct.

I heard Apple was working on wireless power, but an engineer stepped in the beam and got incinerated. Or I’m thinking of an old Star Trek episode. I get those confused with Apple rumors sometimes.

Let me be clear about this: my adapters are fine. All of them. Going back to my blueberry iBook. I treat my devices with the utmost respect. And I keep the boxes and plastic wrap. Because I’m responsible. And a hoarder. Also that. So much hoarding. But it’s my wife and son who go through adapters like frat bros through Axe body spray. And neither of them is a travelling salesperson. As far as I know. They just abuse them at home. You have no idea what I’m going through here.

Anyway, here’s the problem. Getting replacement adapters from Apple is price prohibitive. I can’t mentally justify spending $79 on an adapter from Apple every quarter. So every time I need a new adapter I have to figure out where else I’m going to get one. It’s tempting to get a knock-off from Amazon. Some of them go for as little as $11.40. What a deal! It sounds great until you get down to the reviews that says “It’s not even the right adapter” or “They refused to honor the warrantee” or “IT BURNS! IT BURNS!” or “The box contained nothing but the dead spirit of an angry Incan warlord which inhabited my body and now I am QXATLO, DEAD INCAN LORD OF WAR! I BRING YOU PAIN!”

So, I can never bring myself to buy one of these. So, what to do?

OWC sells “bulk packed” adapters (meaning they don’t come in a box, just in a plastic bag) in the $56 to $65 range. I’ve generally had a good experience buying these from them.

This last time, however, I went the refurbished adapter route and tried MacBookAdapter.com where I was able to get a 60w adapter for about $40. It’s a cheap solution that might not catch on fire. What more could you want? (They’re welcome to use that in their marketing if they want.) After about a month of intermittent usage, it seems solid with no heating issues, though. Yes, I can see the glue where the device has been opened and resealed, but that’s to be expected. The reason I selected this is because they include a pre-paid label for you to mail back the adapter you’re replacing. Do that and you get an additional 90 days added to your warranty. Which, eh, is an OK deal but more importantly it’s better than the adapter ending up in the landfill. I assume they refurbish them for resale which is really the point.

The only oddity was that I selected a t-style plug because it was slightly cheaper and received an l-style one instead. I presume that’s because of availability and it was fine as I actually prefer the l-style.

With the combined aspects of being a) reasonably priced and b) slightly more environmentally friendly than tossing the old adapter, this is my current solution to a recurring problem.