Waterfield's Sutter Tech Sling

Click to enlarge.

While I generally prefer backpacks when carrying a lot of gear, over the past year, my load-out has got a lot smaller. The iPad Pro, with its relatively light weight, is as powerful as a MacBook Pro and I don't have a laptop anymore. Often I want to head out to Starbucks (or Disneyland) with an iPad and a few odds and ends. The gang at WaterField bags were kind enough to send me their new Sutter Tech Sling to try out for just this purpose.

The Sutter Tech Sling is, as the name implies, a sling-style bag that can be adjusted to go over your left or right shoulder. It does this with a D-ring on the top of the bag and two separate mounting points at the bottom. On long days, it takes just seconds to move the strap and switch shoulders. Also related, the strap has a cam lock buckle that is easy to adjust while you are wearing the bag and there is a built-in shoulder pad to give you more comfort. Like other Waterfield bags, the back of the bag has a mesh padding to keep your back from getting sweaty on a hot day.

Click to enlarge.

The Sutter Tech Sling comes in either brown waxed canvas and brown leather (my preference) or black ballistic nylon and black leather trim. There are two sizes: Standard (11.5" x 8" x 3" with 4.5 liters of volume) and Full (14" x 9.5" x 3" with 6.5 liters of volume). I have the Full size, which is required to carry a 12.9" iPad but even the Full-size Sutter Tech Sling is the smallest bag I've used in some time. The bag has a main compartment that contains a separate padded sections that I use for holding my iPad. There's also a front pocket compartment for holding incidentals.

Click to enlarge

On longer outings I've got the bag stuffed with my iPad, external battery, a rolled up jacket, small umbrella, water bottle, paper notebook and pens (they sell a matching pen case), and the other bits I normally carry with no problem. The bag has side zippers on both left and right sides for the front pouch and long zippers that go to the side on its main compartment, so it is easy to slide the bag forward onto your stomach without taking it off and access your gear. I often use the Sutter Tech Sling while biking. Being able to access my sunglasses in this fashion is great.

The thing I like about Waterfield bags most is the way they sweat the small stuff. The Sutter Tech Sling is no different in this regard. The clip on the key fob has a high tension spring, so I don't have to worry about losing my keys. The three pen holders are big enough to hold my larger pens (or Apple Pencil) but also tight enough to keep them from falling out in the bag. The aglets on the end of zipper pulls aren’t cheap plastic but metal barrels that look like tiny lightsaber hilts. The interior is lined with gold fabric, making it easier to find stuff in the bag. The zippers are inset and waterproof. We’ve (thankfully) had a lot of rain in southern California this winter and I've been riding my bike in the rain with this bag a lot. At no point did I see any evidence of water getting inside the bag.

My well-loved Sutter Tech Sling. Click to enlarge.

Here’s my Sutter Tech Sling after two months of abuse through rain and sun. If anything, it looks even better now than it did when it was new.

The Sutter Tech Sling has become my go-to bag. I love the compact size and the easy carry over either shoulder. Because I can switch shoulders, I am able to carry this bag with a full load through a whole day. I’ve received numerous compliments on the bag from strangers, and I’m not surprised. It's a great looking and highly functional bag. If you are looking for a sling, this is the one.

AirPods, G2


Today Apple released the second generation AirPods. (I thought that may happen.) Big differences:

  • Two Price Points: $159 and $199. If you want a Qi charging case, it will cost you an extra $40.

  • New Chip: H1 replaces the W1. It connects faster, has less latency, and gives more phone talk time. I never noticed any problem with connection speed or latency with the G1 AirPods. I will, however, gladly take more talk time. I want all the talk time. No sharing.

  • “Hey Siri” Support: No more tapping your ear, assuming this features delivers as promised.

I ordered a pair immediately. I spend a lot of time on the phone and I’ve had my G1 AirPods in daily use since I first bought them. I use them so much that I killed the battery in the right one and now the left one is acting up. I don’t feel bad about buying the product twice. I don’t see that I really have any choice until battery technologies improve.

Focused 69: The Intentional Life

Mike and I continue to explore the topic of intentionality and the role it has in every area of your life on the latest episode of Focused. Also, we catch up on some listener feedback, I get ready for a (hopefully) productive work trip, Mike answers my questions about Masterminds, and we discuss the importance of space and margin in living the life you want to live.

This episode of Focused is sponsored by:

  • FreshBooks: Online invoicing made easy.

  • Hover: Extensions for anything you’re passionate about. Grab a .ME domain for $9.99.

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code FOCUSED at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.

Don't Blow It

Apple continues to ramp up its stance on privacy as a marketing point for the iPhone. As I watch ads like these, I agree with the point and they certainly can distinguish themselves from their competition when it comes to privacy. At the same time, with every statement Tim Cook makes about privacy and every additional ad like this that runs, the stakes get higher for Apple to live up the very public position they are taking. All I can think is, “Don’t blow it.”

A Few Thoughts on the New iPads and iMacs

Apple's been busy the last few days with announcements for new iPads and new iMacs. I've got a few thoughts:

The New iPads

  • I'm pleased to see the iPad mini returning with updated hardware. Pencil support on the iPad mini makes so much sense to me. I would have been disappointed if they hadn't included pencil support.

  • A 10.5 inch, lower cost iPad Air makes a lot of sense. I've given my old 10.5 inch iPad Pro to my daughter, and she's been using that, along with my old iMac, to get through college. She reports she's not alone in that. The small bump from 9.7 to 10.5 inches makes a significant difference, particularly if you want to attach the Smart Keyboard.

  • Overall, I feel like Apple now has something of quality at every reasonable price point for anyone that wants an iPad. In that regard, the whole iPad line seems better positioned than the MacBooks.

  • While I get that an Apple Pencil 2 needs a flat surface to attach and charge, I sure wish they found a way to use the new pencil with these new iPads. Having used both old and new Apple Pencils, there is no question in my mind that Apple Pencil 2 is superior in every way.

The New iMacs

  • There is nothing particularly innovative with the new iMacs. They are, in large part, speed bumps, but they are nice speed bumps. The iMac definitely got better today.

  • I'm still confused about inflection point between high-end iMac and low-end iMac Pro.

  • Jason Snell did an excellent interview with Apple's iMac Product manager about the new devices. In it Jason asked the question most on my mind, why are they still shipping with spinning disks in 2019? The answer wasn't clear, but it seems they want to hit a price point and that's just the way it is. I'm trying to decide if that is a cop out or I'm just an entitled nerd that thinks nobody should have to deal with spinning drives at this point. The jury is still out.

  • Part of the reason for my thoughts on SSD is that, in my heart, I’d hoped the next generation iMac would be designed, thermally, like the iMac Pro. I believe it to be a superior design, even with the lower speed iMac hardware. Maybe next time.

  • No T2 processor in the new iMac. Now the Mac mini has one and the (non-pro) iMac does not.

  • There are also some options tweaks to the iMac Pro.

Next Week's Apple Event

  • The fact that they are dropping all these hardware announcements this week makes me believe next week's big event is going to be all about Apple's new streaming service. The service is the worst kept secret at Apple in recent memory, and I expect it will be an Apple event unlike anything you've ever seen before with a lot more talk of movie stars than terabytes. I've written before about the challenges I think Apple faces on this. I'm eager to see what their plan is.

  • Given the above point, I would not be surprised to see updated AirPods announced in the next few days.

Mac Power Users 474: Using the iPad as a Laptop

When thinking about replacing your notebook with an iPad, there are a lot of factors to consider. On this week’s episode of Mac Power Users, Stephen and I talk through the hardware and software that can make — or break — this experience.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • SaneBox: Stop drowning in email!

  • TextExpander from Smile: Get 20% off with this link and type more with less effort! Expand short abbreviations into longer bits of text, even fill-ins, with TextExpander from Smile.

  • eero: Never think about WiFi again. Get $100 off the ‘Eero base unit and 2 beacons package’, and a year of eero Plus.

  • Luna Display: The only hardware solution that turns your iPad into a wireless display for your Mac. Use promo code POWER at checkout for 10% off.

Don't Let Your Email Make You Crazy. Get SaneBox (Sponsor)

This week MacSparky is sponsored by SaneBox, the email service that can help you get control of your inbox. For a lot of folks, email is a constant pain point, and it doesn’t need to be. With SaneBox, you add a powerful set of email tools that can work in just about any email client. SaneBox allows you to:

  • Wake up everyday to find that the SaneBox robots have automatically sorted your incoming email for you so you can address the important and ignore the irrelevant.

  • Defer email for hours, days, or weeks so it is out of your life until a more appropriate time.

  • Set secret reminders so if someone doesn’t reply to an important email, SaneBox gives you a nudge to follow up.

  • Automatically save attachments to the cloud (like Dropbox).

  • Use their SaneForward service to automatically send appropriate emails to services such as Evernote, Expensify, and Kayak.

  • Move unwanted email to the SaneBlackHole and never see anything from that person again.

To me, getting the SaneBox account was the inflection point between when email controlled me and I started controlling email. If you are still on the other side of that equation, it’s time you joined us and stop letting email make you crazy. I’ve been a paying subscriber for years and can’t imagine getting by without it. If you sign up with this link, you even get a discount off your subscription.

Mac Power Users 473: Shawn Blanc’s Evolved Workflows

Shawn Blanc returns on this week’s episode of Mac Power Users to talk about his move to the iPad Pro and how he manages the growing team behind projects such as the Sweet Setup and the Focus Course.

This episode of Mac Power Users is sponsored by:

  • 1Password: Have you ever forgotten a password? You don't have to worry about that anymore. 

  • The Omni Group: We're passionate about productivity for Mac, iPhone and iPad. 

  • Luna Display: The only hardware solution that turns your iPad into a wireless display for your Mac. Use promo code POWER at checkout for 10% off.

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code MPU at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.

Email Breach

Wired recently published an article about the discovery of a database containing 809 million total records exposed online. The MongoDB (freely available to hackers for some time now) contains 150 gigabytes of plain-text marketing data, including 763 unique email addresses.

These days it seems I get nearly as much phishing email as regular email. Setting aside the discussion of email being unproductive, at what point does the medium fail just because we stop believing any email we receive is legitimate? I'm already getting that way with nearly all of my vendors.

Focused 68: Getting Productive with an Unproductive Boss

On this week’s episode of Focused, Mike and I talk about getting intentional and getting productive with an unproductive boss. Finally, we cover productive Italians.

This episode of Focused is sponsored by:

  • FreshBooks: Online invoicing made easy.

  • Timing: The automatic time-tracking app for macOS. Use this link to save 10% on your purchase.

  • Squarespace: Make your next move. Enter offer code FOCUSED at checkout to get 10% off your first purchase.

Classic Mac Pillow

Months ago I backed a silly Kickstarter that involved creating pillows looking like classic Apple products. Last week the pillows showed up and we’ve been having fun with them at the house. When nerd friends come over, they immediately recognize my classic Mac and Finder icon. Note they must have not got rights from Apple, so instead of the rainbow Mac logo, we just got a rainbow square. Also, the Mac has a handle (sort of).

A friend told me the the Finder pillow resembles me. I often get mistaken for the Finder.