There’s a lot of awesome things that I feel are valuable but might not be well known, so I’ve made a list. There’s no theme whatsoever, but hopefully you’ll find something on here that makes your life better for the new year.
Board Games: People seem to wince at the idea of a board game but will play pool or darts in a bar all night. Blokus is just one of many games that’s easy to pick up, hard and fun game. Also check out Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride.
USB Battery Packs: These things can charge your phone a bunch of times, cost $25 and go unnoticed in a backpack until you need it. And when you need it, this thing is a life saver.
Cloth Lightning Cables: The cables Apple ships are delicate, and you can’t trust your friends to treat them right when they borrow ’em. These are twice as long, MFI certified, and made out of a durable cloth material.
Rice Cooker: Seriously. This thing is a game changer for the home cook. Make brown or white rice, quinoa, lentils, bring a batch of dried beans to life, or steam cook some veggies, all with next to zero effort.
Great websites to read
Hacker News: Super intelligent technology and programming news with the best comments section on the internet. From the people at Y Combinator, a VC company.
Facebook Pages Feed: Facebook sucks because of the tons of boring/annoying people you’re obligated to add, so this link lets you only view updates from pages instead of idiots.
Reddit: Again, like Facebook, reddit sucks if you use it wrong. Make an account, unsubscribe from all the default garbage they feed you and resubscribe to small, specific subreddits, such as the Albany or Coffee ones. The fewer you subscribe to the better this works.
The Wirecutter: What’s the best TV? Or the best headphones? This site has the answers. They also have a home goods focused website, called The Sweethome which can tell you which pillows or bed sheets are the best.
Great places to eat
Tara Kitchen: This is the best restaurant in the Capital Region, and if you haven’t been, do so as soon as you can. I hadn’t had Moroccan food until I ate here a few months ago and I need to make up for lost time.
Empire Wok: Because sometimes you need trash Chinese food and they do a great job and have every meat-analog possible.
Capital City Gastropub: Great varied menu alongside solid classics. Great cocktail menu too.
Parivar: A cafe in the back of an Indian spice store serving North and South Indian street foods. The absolute best Indian food I’ve ever had.
Cheesecake Machismo: I can’t even eat cheesecake but the idea that there’s a specialty cheesecake spot makes me happy. And everyone who has eaten here loves it.
Great places to have a drink
Wine Bar on Lark: Half price cocktails during happy hour and some of the best food as well.
McGeary’s: Quite simply, a solid bar. About 30 beers on tap, a solid pub food menu and great staff.
Stacks: Not technically a drink drink, but having a multi-roaster coffee shop is amazing.
The Shop, Troy: An actual cocktail bar with no gimmicks.
Great blogs to read
Zen Habits: Focus on what matters. This is one of the most valuable websites on the internet. Start here.
James Clear: Productivity, fitness and motivation in well written, easy to read articles. Start here.
DEDPXL: Photography website that has intensive video critiques as well as photography challenges among other great things.
Overcast: If you’ve only learned about podcasts because of Serial, welcome to the vast post-radio world. This is the best app to use for podcasts as it has Smart Speed (removes small silences between words to speed podcasts up without you noticing), Voice Boost (because some people don’t bother to master their podcasts) and a web-based player. Made by Marco Arment, the dude who co-founded Tumblr.
Waze: Social GPS, but more importantly you can report speed traps and be notified of others who report them. It also has live traffic updates and will re-route you around traffic if it’s faster.
Todoist: A to-do app. This is the only way I can keep track of what needs to be done and. Has a web and desktop counterpart as well.
Pillow: Sleep cycle alarm clock that wakes you up at the specific point of your sleep cycle so you’re not groggy and you wake up easily. It works very well and is one of the reasons I can manage to get up relatively early.
AlbanyWorks4U: This is basically Albany’s equivalent of calling 311. Report things to the city such as illegal garbage or your horrible neighbors doing crazy repair work without permits.
Instagram: It only sucks if you use it wrong. Don’t follow friends simply because they’re your friend, follow them because they post interesting things you want to see.
Spotify: Obvious, but if you’re not using this to search for and subscribe to playlists you’re missing 99% of the value of this app. There’s playlists for things such as “Songs that mention Halle Berry” and “Songs that reference Pablo Picasso”.
Great instagrammers to follow
avianrecon: Because birds are sick.
usinterior: Because America is sick.
themercerstreetproject: Local woman inherited a house full of insane things and posts photos of these things as they’re discovered.
notdumbpictures: The most slept on instagrammer. Constantly awesome photos.
arnold_daniel: Obvious, but if you haven’t heard of this dude you’re seriously missing out.
me: Shameless. Vaguely Albany themed, infrequent and interesting.