I absolutely love to sing. I do it all the time. I feel so free when I do it. It’s a way that I can express myself. Unfortunately, I’ve made it so that if I try to record myself singing, it’s one of the most unpleasant things I can do.
I get so anxious when I try to record my covers. I just want it to be as good as I can make it. I try to make it perfect, and I realize that’s one of the reasons I always mess up. All this pressure I put on myself makes me forget the words and the chords to songs all the time. I had to record my last cover over 20 times. I always try to calm down; but at some point during my try, my mind starts racing again. I’m telling myself to not forget what’s coming up next, or "Make sure you hit these notes." I eventually mess up again.
Sarah suggests that I sing as if I’m singing to her. I try doing that, but the same thing happens after a while. I cannot seem to keep my mind from freaking out.
I’m so serious whenever I try to record. I need to try to have more fun. I need to treat this as an enjoyable activity instead of something where I need it to be perfect. I know I can power through recording, but I don’t want it to be like that. I want it to be the same as if I’m singing by myself or to Sarah. I know I can get better at this. I just know it may take some practice.
I learned how to knit in late 2017. I don't exactly remember when it was, but it was after Sarah and I started going to Tipsy Knitters in New Orleans. It's a really cool knitting group that gets together every week to work on projects and drink! How fun is that?! I really like knitting. My first attempted project was a hat, but I did not do it right. I started over and picked up a basket weave stitch pattern from littlechurchknits.com. It's going to end up being a scarf for Sarah! I'm really excited to finish it, and I'm very glad I learned how to knit! Eventually I want to make myself a sweater!
Full Disclosure: I started writing this post on December 28, 2017, and since then I’ve constantly been making changes to my screens. That’s one of the reasons why this article has taken me so long to write. Plus the amount of detail I originally wanted to go into about my decisions really made me procrastinate. I really do love just thinking about how my brain works and how best my phone can suit its needs while achieving a great functional aesthetic.
I used to be a hardcore Nexus user. I thought Android was better in every way compared to iOS. I thought the hardware and software were better. I never thought I’d have an iPhone in my life, but here we are. I still love Android, but iOS is really awesome. There is one thing that I miss though: home screen customization.
When I started using my first iPhone, I immediately made myself get used to not being able to put icons literally exactly where I wanted. I accepted widgets only existing on one page. I knew iOS wasn’t capable of this level of personalization, so I told myself these things in order to make the transition easier. I know I’m over-dramatizing this; but as a person coming from using a certain OS for 6 years, the little things matter. This was a feature that I did not take for granted. Now that I don’t have this granularity, I really miss it. I’ve tried setting my screens up in creative ways before with folders and different numbers of screens, but nothing made me feel close to the excitement I had when customizing my Android screens. However, I think I’ve finally come as close as I’m going to get.
I want to talk about how I’ve gotten my screens to look the way they do. I use a certain wallpaper and block of text. The wallpaper hides the dock and folder backgrounds. The block of text hides the folder names. I don’t remember exactly how I found both of these things out, but I’ve included links in case someone is interested in taking the same approach to their screens. I also use an app called Workflow for dummy white app icons. They blend in with the white background.
I wanted my home screens to be extremely functional. I listen to a lot of tech podcasts, and some of my favorite topics are the apps people use and their own home screen layouts. I love drawing inspiration from these conversations to see if I can improve on anything I’m doing. I always want to make sure that the layout I’ve chosen is best for me.
The fact that I’m right-handed played a lot into my decisions. I thought about thumb reachability because that’s the finger I touch my screen with the most. I wanted certain apps to be within reach without too much stretching. I also took into consideration the number of touches/swipes it would take to open an app.
I paired this thinking with the desire to have some nice looking screens. I’ve gone through so many iterations of this approach, and I’ve come to my favorite one so far. My phone is my most used device, and these extreme details matter a lot to me. My thoughts are that I can’t think enough about the device I use the most and how I use it. I can’t think enough about how it can be a better tool for me.
I have more apps on my phone than anyone I know. My thinking for having so many is that, “Maybe one day I’ll need this.” Sometimes I think to myself that I should be a minimalist and only have what I need, but I can’t get past the feeling I stated earlier. I decided to separate all my apps into folders. I’ve installed so many that I can’t remember everything I have, so I figured creating specific folders was the best solution. I thought searching for the app wouldn’t be too productive since I wouldn’t even know what to search for. This way I’d be able to look through these folders for a certain type of app, and I’d probably have it.
The apps I chose to keep in the first page of the folders were subjective. Some I deemed more important, but others I just took the first 2 alphabetically. On pages 1 and 2, I put a dummy icon in the first page of the folders on the left to make that column “invisible.” I just like this look a lot.
Page count matters a lot to me. Several of my iterations had one or two pages. I never liked having too many. For this setup though I changed my thinking. I’ve put certain apps on certain pages, and it’s working out very well so far. I’m going to go through my pages least important to most important.
My last page is full of apps I don’t use too often or apps I really don’t want on my first 2 pages. I also put apps there I don’t want to be tempted to use too often like Netflix and HBO Go. I just put them into folders as stated before to further my aesthetic. I recently put the dummy app in the first position in each of the folders in the first two columns. I did this to make this last page more symmetrical.
I wanted to have a uniform number of icons displayed in the folders. CGP Grey inspired this with his one icon in his folders. I wanted something clean as well; I just wanted more than 1 icon. I would have preferred to have 3, but some of my folders only had 2 apps in them. As I mentioned earlier I’ve categorized the apps pretty specifically so I could find what I was looking for. I understand that I don’t have any folder labels, so it must be hard to tell what folder contains what apps. The apps displayed in the first pages convey the type of apps each folder contains. That paired with already being used to these folders makes finding my apps easy.
The second page has apps I like to use a lot, but not as often as the ones on the first page. I kept the apps I use the most on this page out of folders and arranged them alphabetically. The folders are arranged alphabetically according to category. The way I’ve categorized these folders is admittedly weird and arbitrary, but it’s the best way I came up with for myself. These self-explanatory categories fit into this sentence, “I use these apps for …”
I decided to have a second “main” page because I use too many apps that I don’t want in folders to keep on just 1 page. I tried and tried to narrow them down, but having these apps on two pages is the best I can do.
Page 1 is laid out almost exactly the same way. There are again categories for folders that fill in the same sentence above. However, the apps that aren't in folders aren't only arranged alphabetically. Each row is part of the same category. Those categories are alphabetized. If you can't tell I like alphabetization. I realize I could just memorize where all my apps are after continued use, but alphabetization offers just that little bit of extra help with locating them.
The apps on this page are the apps I use the absolute most or are the most important to me. The ones not in folders are the highest degree of these aspects. The apps on this page have influence in the biggest parts of my life. That’s why I’ve chosen them to live here.
The folder in my dock contains Google Chrome, DuckDuckGo, and Google Search. It’s on the left to line up with the other folders. Next is Overcast. This is my podcast player of choice. I use this app every single day, almost all day long. It may just be my most used app on my phone other than the next app Todoist. This is my task manager. I recently just had a quick stint with Things 3, but I’ve discovered that Todoist is what I really need. This is how I remember to actually do things and plan things out. Unread is my RSS reader, and it’s in the dock because I’m trying to make a conscious effort to stay more informed about politics, society, and technology.
What apps I decide get to live in the dock is what I give the most thought to during this whole setup process. I think about how quickly do I want to be able to access them, how often do I use them, and how much I want them visible. I gave an incredible amount of consideration to these ideas, and I’ve ended up with this dock setup.
I could say more about my setup and go into even more specifics, but this is the gist of my reasoning for this setup. I’m really enjoying how it’s working out for me, but I know eventually things will change. No matter what I change whenever that may be, I just want it to work best for me.
I posted another ukulele cover! I'm 2 for 2 this year. You can watch it here. I hope you enjoy!
People always ask me why I have 2 PopSockets. People usually only have 1. I used to have 3 (those were the days). Here are my reasons for having a seemingly excessive amount of these small functional objects.
My cousin McCaela was the first person I saw that had a PopSocket. I had no clue what this circle-accordion thing was on her phone until she showed it to us. I thought to myself, that’s pretty cool, but it doesn’t seem like it would make that much of a difference for gripping my phone. I didn't immediately get one. In fact it really took me a long time. What pushed me to buy one was my brother Austin. He got two; and he’s pretty influential to me, so I wanted to try it out this time.
I originally put mine in the middle like everyone else, but I soon realized this wasn't the best place for me. My hands are pretty small, and having the PopSocket there didn’t really help my gripping the phone. I started thinking about whether or not putting it closer to one side would help. I tried this out, and it was so much better for my grip.
Eventually I purchased another one and put them closer to the top and bottom of my phone, still on one side. Having two places for extra support was working out even better than my original one. This also improved the stability when standing my phone up in landscape. Because I put one near the bottom of my phone, I can stand it up in portrait. That's really useful when I'm cooking. It’s pretty stable, and I can perform light taps and scrolls without the need to stabilize. I really like that.
I bought the third one because I messed up the adhesive while taking one of them off. I originally only intended on having 2, but the messed up one stuck well enough that I just kept it. Now I could stand my phone up on either side in landscape. I liked that capability. It didn’t matter how I set my phone down. That helped whenever I wanted to charge my phone while I watched something. I didn’t have to accommodate too much for the cord.
Repositioning is not the easiest thing to do. The adhesive is very strong. You need to pry up one side, and then the rest comes. The first pry is the hardest. It even hurts your hand sometimes. After you remove it you wash it with soap and water and let it dry off. You can't let it sit too long though because it will lose its adhesion. After that just put it in the new spot. The developers of this product made a great decision by making them reusable. I like that it's not a one time stick-on. That would devalue these quite a bit if they couldn't be moved.
PopSockets have enabled me use cases that I would never have gotten the chance to take advantage of. The extra grip has come in handy in so many situations, and the added bonus of being able to stand my phone up in almost any orientation is great. They're really useful, and I'm so glad I bought some.
After a really long time, I've recorded another cover! I haven’t posted a cover in more than a year. That’s actually really disappointing. Last year was pretty tough, and I didn’t feel very creative. I really should’ve tried harder to get myself out of my funk. I’m just glad things have gotten better, and I’m feeling inspired again.
I just love singing and playing my ukulele so much. I really need to do that more, even if I’m feeling down. If anything doing that should help me feel better. I really missed it.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy, and feel free to watch my other videos!
I bought the orange Overcast hat from Cotton Bureau last year. It immediately became my favorite hat of all time. I honestly didn't wear hats that much for most of my life, but I've recently taken a liking to them. This dad hat craze has got me on the bandwagon. Even after it's over (which I hope it never is), I'm still going to wear this hat because that’s just how much I like it. The color is a pretty bright orange, but I like that it's unique. I'm half expecting someone that also uses Overcast to talk to me because of this hat.
I bought the hat to support the developer of the app Marco Arment (and because it looks fire). Overcast is great. It's my iOS podcast player of choice. There’s so many features that make this better than the stock podcast app along and other third-party podcast apps. I've been listening to podcasts at 1.5x-2x speed. You’d think that speeding up people’s voices this much would make them indiscernible, but Marco’s taken care of that. I’m able to understand every word, and I’m am able to consume so many more episodes this way. There's also a Smart Speed feature that shortens the silences during episodes. I really like that because there aren't anymore awkward situations when no one’s saying anything. There's also tons of other features that make this app great such as true black mode, drag and drop playlists, and Voice Boost. I highly recommend using this app to enjoy your podcasts.
Buying this hat was another way for me to be like, yes, I love your app. Please keep supporting it and innovating! I'm extremely satisfied with working this app into my daily use and this hat into my wardrobe.
Technology has really overtaken society. Reading isn't as popular as it used to be. With phones and computers having so many apps and games for endless entertainment, it seems like people forget about books. I know I was one of those people. I made a decision to make reading one of my resolutions. I'm so glad I did.
I've been trying to read Harry Potter for 30 minutes a day everyday since the new year. I've only slipped up 1 or 2 days, but I've made up for it the next day by reading what I was supposed to read the night before. I've been meaning to read it because I haven't read all of the books. I read through the 4th one when I was around 12 years old. I'm finally going to finish the book series. I'm excited to see what's different between the books and movies.
Reading is going to be good for me. It'll be a chance to separate myself from everything digital in my life. It's important not to become dependent on all things electronic. Read something once in a while.
Sarah and I have a new puppy! We've had him since Black Friday. He's super cute! He's almost 3 months old now. We're still training him, so he's still doing bad things like biting and having accidents. He's a good puppy though. He listens pretty well when we tell him to come, and he's not too, too bad at "sit." The thing he's most consistent with is fetching. He's fairly good at it! Overall he makes us happy, even though he can be extremely annoying at times. We love him, and we're so happy we got him!
I really like my site’s minimalist design. However, I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. It occurred to me that I didn’t have a logo! I was thinking of ways to create it, and this is the story of how it all came together.
I’m Filipino, and my last name, Villanueva, translates to “a new house.” Bloganueva simply came from blog + (vill)anueva. I liked how it sounded the moment I thought of it. If you were to translate that, it would mean “a new blog.” I wanted my logo to be something involving a house because of my last name. I was able to work in a large part of my site’s design (the squares) to be the building blocks of the house. I think it just ties it all together. Plus, I replaced the A in Blog-A-Nueva; so I’m glad it kind of resembles an A.
I’m not a graphic designer, so Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. are not the most familiar programs. I did come up with my own way of doing it though. Disclaimer: I know this isn’t the most efficient way to do this.
The app I used to make the actual squares of the logo is Assembly. This is an art and design app I used a few other times. I decided to dust it off and utilize it again. Assembly’s learning curve is relatively low, so you get used to it pretty quickly. It has a lot of popups to let you know what you can do. I was able to make what I was seeing in my brain come to life pretty quickly with this app. I exported a transparent PNG and sent it to my MacBook to put it through GIMP.
I’m pretty familiar with GIMP. It’s basically an open-source Photoshop. I got into using it while I was using Linux, and I just decided take advantage of the knowledge I already had to not slow down the process just in case there was something I didn’t know how to do in Photoshop or Illustrator. I used GIMP’s to fill tool to fill in the colors of the squares with 2 of the colors from my site.
After this I used Photoshop to crop the png as close to the edges of the squares as I could.
I wanted my logo to be good, so I knew I’d want some feedback from people since my eye for design is still improving. I got just that from my girlfriend Sarah and my boss Allen. Allen suggested I do a “sprint.” That’s a technique where you just draw out every possible idea you have, and you eventually narrow it down and meld parts from other designs until you come up with the right one. I did that, and it worked!
My thought for my logo was always centered around some kind of house. At first I wanted the house made of words.
I tried different fonts to make this idea work better, but it just wasn’t working out.
Then I tried the sprinting technique Allen suggested to me and came up with 9 squares. At this point, I didn’t think the house design was going to happen. I was going to leave it at that, but Allen suggested I just put a roof over it. At this moment something clicked, and I knew I had found my overall design! It was so exciting! He had suggested just something as simple as a triangle, but I wanted it to fit the overall motif. I put more squares to shape the roof, and this design brought me one step closer!
Originally I had one more row of squares at the bottom. Sarah said something didn’t look right. She said it looked like an arrow and that I should remove the bottom row. I knew she was right, but I didn’t want to take them out because I wanted letters inside the squares spelling out “A NEW BLOG.” I decided against the letters in the end to keep the logo clean.
I also had a different color scheme, but Sarah helped me eventually pick out the current scheme.
Allen said the same thing. He said it looked like an up vote. He suggested removing the bottom row as well and just move the colored square up one. I was a little reluctant, but I ultimately ended up doing this.
I’m so glad I did! Heeding their advice helped my original, lackluster designs blossom into my site’s beautiful logo. I’d like to thank Sarah and Allen for helping me through this process!
I’m beyond satisfied with how the logo came out. It feels like this is what the it’s supposed to be. I couldn’t be happier!
This isn’t actually that big of a deal since I work there, but I still think it’s really cool. I took the picture and sent it to our Social Media Specialist thinking he could use it on the Gram. He did! It perpetuates my feelings of being a part of the great things being done here.
I wrote a post about my new vlog setup with my Glif from Studio Neat and a post about my Rode VideoMicro. I included pictures of the Glif with either the included wooden handle or my Manfrotto PIXI. I’ve since decided to change it up a bit.
I like both of these attachments. The wooden handle looks so nice. I like how it feels and functions. The PIXI looks pretty good and does what it’s supposed to do. On one hand, I wish I could stand up my phone while using the wooden handle like I can with my PIXI or my Gorillapod. On the other, I wish the PIXI looked as good as the wooden handle. To top it off, my least favorite part about them is that I had to switch between them. With this new setup, I no longer have to sacrifice; I get all the looks and almost all the functionality I want.
I was at work when I had this idea. One of my coworkers has a similar setup for his work phone, and I noticed his handle had a mount on the bottom of it. I thought to myself, “I wish my handle had a bottom mount.” Then I realized, it did. I forgot that it had one because I attached the wrist strap to it, so in my head it was like it was completely part of the handle and wasn’t detachable. I wondered if all of the mounts on the Glif and its handle were the same size. This idea would work only if that were the case. I detached the strap from the bottom and warily started to attach the PIXI to bottom mount of the handle. It worked! I then attached the wrist strap to the other mount on the Glif itself. I discovered my new favorite setup!
I was so excited about this! Now I wouldn’t have to switch between accessories. This is all I’ve ever dreamed of! I started messing around with holding just the wooden handle. This is pretty much the same, there’s just something more substantial than just a strap hanging off it now. It looked a little weird at first, but I quickly changed my mind. I think it looks awesome now. Then I started changing the angle on the PIXI and holding the setup using that. I figured out that I don’t have to hold it up as high because of the added height from the wooden handle. I like that a lot (less strain on the muscles). Since I record with my phone in landscape, the lens isn’t in the middle of the handle like a regular camera’s would be. Adding the angling capability of the PIXI really helps in these situations. I can now angle the setup so that the lens in centered no matter which hand I’m holding it in.
I can just hold my arm straight out instead of needing to make sure the frame is centered by compensating with extra arm bends. The PIXI also doubles as an informal counter weight whenever I hold the setup by the wooden handle to help make my footage a tiny bit smoother.
I really like this setup. There’s several advantages to it over previous ones and minimal disadvantages, really those only being how it looks and not being able to wrap around objects like the Gorillapod. I think I’ll stick with this for a while. I hope I’ll stick with this for a while.