In 2012, we started a series called "What We Use," where we, the AP staff, talked about the stuff that we can't live without. It started off as something where we just discussed our Android devices and computers, but last year we took that a step further (at Artem's request, no less) and discussed a lot more than that, basically covering everything that we love in our lives. The most important stuff to us, as people.

It's been over a year since my last WWU post, and you probably know what that means: time for a new one. I actually really enjoy writing these posts, and I hope you enjoy reading it. As always, if you have any questions about my gear, feel free to ask 'em below.

Android Devices, Computers, and Other Gadgets

We're an Android site, so it only makes sense to start with the relevant stuff, right? Yeah…makes sense to me, anyway.

Phones: Nexus 6 and Blu Life One X


I stopped using my Nexus 5 shortly before the 2014 WWU post and switched to the Galaxy S 5 and original Moto X. Since then, I've changed a handful of times, from the OG X to the 2014 model, then to the Nexus 6. I dropped the Galaxy S5 long ago (I never got used to that thing), and even went back to the Nexus 5 as a secondary phone for a while.

The Nexus 6 is my daily driver, but it took a while to get there. I bought one when they first launched, tried to like it, but couldn't get used to the size. So I got rid of it and bought a 2014 Moto X, which was basically perfect for a while…then Lollipop's memory issues made it so frustrating to use I couldn't handle it anymore. So I gave it to my wife and bought another Nexus 6. I've since gotten much more acclimated to the size (and even kind of enjoy it now), though I'd still probably prefer something a bit smaller. As far as the new Nexus devices are concerned, I really have no plans to upgrade to the 6P; I've just heard too many things that I don't like about it. I'll stick with the N6 for at least a few more months (or longer if I have to).

I have two mobile lines — one main, which is the Nexus 6, and one specifically for testing — so when I'm not carrying a review phone, my secondary SIM card goes into the Blu Life One X. I kind of fell in love with it during my review, and for only $99 (at the time), it was a steal. It's my personal favorite Blu phone that I've ever used, and I often find myself reaching for it instead of the Nexus 6 for everything aside from calling or texting. I've gone back and forth on actually making it my daily driver, but in the end I've just been too lazy to pair my watch with a new phone. Pathetic, I know.

Tablets: SHIELD Tablet, Nexus 9, Pixel C, and iPad Mini Retina


I'll be honest, the way I do things has changed dramatically in the last year, so I don't use tablets nearly as much as I used to. Still, I like to have them around for testing and whatnot, and I think SHIELD Tablet and the Pixel C are the two best Android tablets on the market. Despite its quirks, the Nexus 9 is still a solid tablet, too — many of the recent updates have made it much more usable. Of the bunch, the Pixel C is probably my favorite right now, and the more I use it, the more I like it. It's the fastest Android tablet I've ever used, by far.

The iPad is still used exclusively for music creation, though I've replaced a lot of my musical gear over the past year, so it doesn't get nearly as much use these days…which is kind of the story with all my tablets. So really, the iPad just hangs out on the charger most of the time.

PC: Falcon Northwest Tiki


Look, my PC is harder to get to now, so I had to reuse the picture from 2014. That's why it has the old AP logo. 

This computer is still quite a beast, so there's been no reason to upgrade it from last year. I did toss a new video card into it, got a larger monitor, and updated it to Windows 10, though. So here's the updated specsheet for my main workhorse:

  • Intel Core i7 4770k
  • 16GB RAM
  • 480GB Crucial M500 SSD
  • 2TB Western Digital HD
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980
  • Windows 10
  • Acer XB270H 27" 1080p Monitor

Otherwise, it's the same system as back in 2014. I do need some new desktop speakers at some point, though I'm not even sure where to start looking at those. Feel free to offer suggestions in the comments to pander to my laziness.

Laptops: ASUS Chromebook Flip and Acer Chromebook 13


In my 2014 post, I alluded to the fact that I'd like to abandon a "traditional" laptop and switch to Chrome OS. Well, shortly after that post went up, I did. I got the Acer Chromebook 13, which I really like. After using it for a while and really falling in love with Chrome OS (and seeing how it changed the way I work), I decided to re-think the way I do things. It was then I realized that maybe a convertible device would be perfect for me — part tablet, part laptop. Something lightweight that could serve double-duty; a do-it-all device that I could toss in my bag and take everywhere with me. Ironically, the laptop I had last year — the Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga — is a convertible…but I sold it shortly after I got the Chromebook 13. The Thinkpad had some quirks that I just couldn't get past, though, so I have no regrets.

I started considering the Surface Pro, but coughing up $1300+ for what I considered to be an experiment was just something I couldn't do. Then, after talking with former AP writer and good friend of mine Eric Ravenscraft, I started looking into the Chromebook Flip from ASUS. The more reviews I read, the better it seemed, so I pulled the trigger on the 4 GB model.

I've had the Flip for several months now, and I absolutely love it. I originally thought that maybe this would prove to me that I actually do want a Surface, but that hasn't been the case — I've been using the Flip as my main laptop since I got it, which I never expected would happen. I was originally concerned about the 10.1-inch display size, but it doesn't feel nearly that small. I could easily work from this little laptop all day if I needed to. In fact, I spend the first half of my workday on the Flip every single day. I honestly can't say enough good things about it.

Eventually I may get something a little bigger — like the new Dell Chromebook 13 — but I'm not really in any hurry. I'm definitely a believer in the Flip.

Oh, and I love Chrome OS — it has come so far since I first used it. I don't care what Artem says, it's crazy-efficient.

Camera: Canon T3i


I had to take this picture with my Nexus 6. :( WHY CAN'T MY CAMERA TAKE A PICTURE OF ITSELF

Confession time. This isn't technically my camera — it's my wife's (hence the pink strap). She bought it sometime last year (or the year before?) but I end up using it like three times as much as she does. You know, because of work and all that. In general, I don't claim to know much (or anything, really) about photography, but I'm happy with the pictures that I get from this camera most of the time. I realize that I should probably invest in better lenses (and maybe talk to Liam about how take good pictures?), but I'm pleased with the results that I've been getting, so I'll just keep going with that. My wife also got me a decent lighting setup so I can still take pictures on gloomy days or in other low-light situations, which has been invaluable to me for AP stuff.

The Other Stuff: Android Wear, Audio, and Accessories

Sony Smartwatch 3


When the whole smartwatch thing really started to take off, I thought it was dumb. I honestly didn't see the need for a small screen on my wrist that basically showed me all the stuff that I already got from my smartphone. Regardless, I got one for the job — I knew Android Wear was going to be something we'd spend a lot of time talking about, and it would be absurd of me to know nothing about it. So I got the LG G Watch.

After about a week, I knew I couldn't live without it. I just "got it" — I could see the value in having all that information on my wrist the second it hit my phone in a way that I couldn't understand before actually getting a smartwatch. It's so convenient and practical. I love it.

So after having the G Watch for a bit, I decided I needed something better, and it had to be good for outdoor use. The obvious choice was the Sony Smartwatch 3. For what it is, I really like it. I would prefer a round Wear device, but there just hasn't been one that I can justify buying to replace my SW3, so this is what I'll stick with…at least for the next little while.

Who knows, maybe Sony will do a round version. (That's just wishful thinking.) Or maybe I'll give that new Casio watch a go when it hits.

Speakers and Earbuds


If you haven't noticed, I spend a lot of time reviewing audio accessories. I'm a total music junkie, so checking out new speakers and earbuds is something that I absolutely love doing — I'm always on the hunt for what's best, and the speaker market is changing so dramatically at such a fast pace, there's always something bigger and better around the corner. Still, the Ultimate Ears stuff was basically the benchmark to me for the longest time…until I heard the newest JBL stuff. It's mind-blowing how good it is. As a result, my go-to speaker is either the JBL Xtreme, Flip 3, and Charge 2+, depending on what I need it for. Really, if you're in the market for a new speaker, you can't go wrong with any of those three.


And when it comes to earbuds, I've been using the same two sets for at least two years now: Phiaton Moderna MS 200, which I always use on the podcast; and the BlueAnt Pump HD, which are still the best "sport" buds I've ever used. They're kind of bulky overall, but they're comfortable as hell, don't move when I'm dripping with sweat, and sound pretty damn good too. Also, you can get some for like thirty bucks now, which is pretty insane to me.

Wireless Chargers and Quick Chargers


Everyone has to charge their gadgets, and I am no exception. One of the main reasons I don't want to go to the Nexus 6P is because it doesn't have wireless charging — something that I freakin' love. I have a few chargers around the house: the Cheotech aluminum one on my desk and the fast charge one beside the couch in my office, the TYLT VU beside my bed, and the Spigen F300 in the living room.

While wireless chargers are great, they're not the best when it comes to juicing up quickly. For that, I always go with a turbo charger — I have one that goes everywhere with me, and the Tronsmart Titan (which has five QC2.0 ports) under my desk. I use the hell out of that thing, too. It's a beast.

Anyway, enough about chargers. That's boring stuff.

Android Apps, Widgets, and Games

Android Apps

Screenshot_20160115-135544 Screenshot_20160115-135637 Screenshot_20160115-135610

I think you'll find that I'm a pretty boring Android user overall. I don't use a ton of different things, I don't modify my system anymore, and I don't use my phone for anything "advanced." Now that Android is my job, I've basically stopped doing most of the stuff I did when it was more of a hobby. It also has a lot to do with the fact that Google has really brought Android to a place where I don't feel the need to do all that fancy crap. A straight unrooted, stock system is a thing of beauty at this point.

Anyway, here's a list of the apps I like.

  • Sync Pro for Reddit: I like reddit, and this is the best app for browsing it in my opinion.
  • Instagram: I mostly use this to look at pictures of bikes, guitars, and basketball stuff.
  • Simple: This is my bank. It's the best.
  • Garmin Connect: I can't very well use my Garmin Edge 510 without Garmin connect. I mean, I can…but I don't really want to.
  • Strava: Again, bike stuff. This is how I see how much I suck compared to everyone I know.
  • Feedly: Because it's fast and efficient when it comes to reading news.
  • Timely: I use this to wake up. But sometimes I keep sleeping.
  • Pandora: Sometimes I don't know what to listen to, so I just use Pandora.
  • Play Music: I love Play Music.
  • System Monitor: This helps me pinpoint battery issues on my phones or tablets should they arise.
  • Team Stream by Bleacher Report: Basketball news!
  • NBA GameTime: Basketball games!
  • Weather Timeline: I need to know when it's OK to go ride bikes outside or when I need to hit the trainer. Weather Timeline is a pretty way to do that.
  • Pushbullet: This just makes life simpler.
  • Lastpass: There's no way I'd be able to remember every password I have. So I use this.
  • Nova Launcher: Best launcher out there. Period.

Chrome OS Extensions and Apps

Screenshot 2016-01-15 at 2.20.53 PM

Like I said earlier, I love Chrome OS. One of the nice things about Chrome OS is that since it's just Chrome, I can use all of the tools that I love on my desktop on my Chromebooks and vice versa. I don't use a ton of different things on my CBs (are you noticing a trend here?), so here's a look at the things I use all the time.

  • Calmly Writer: This is my absolute favorite writing tool, and I use it for every article I pen here at AP. It's super simple, clean as hell, and I can copy/paste everything directly into WordPress without messing with the formatting. It costs a couple bucks, but it's so worth it.
  • Sunrise Calendar: Google Calendar is good, but Sunrise I think is better. So I use it.
  • Tweetdeck: I've got like four or five feeds that I watch on Twitter, and Tweetdeck is the easiest way to do that.
  • Pushbullet: Of course.
  • Onetab: Sometimes I need to restart my Chromebooks, and when that happens I like to send all the tabs to OneTab, which basically just collects what I have open. That way it reboots faster since it doesn't have to re-open 14 tabs.
  • The Great Suspender: This saves RAM and other resources on low-resource systems (you know, like Chromebooks) by automatically putting tabs into a sort of hibernated state. Clicking on the page restores it. I like it.
  • Lastpass: That whole password thing I said before.
  • Clipboard History 2: I use a lot of the same info over and over (like my name and address for review units), and Clipboard History makes it easy to quickly get that info and paste it.
  • Player Card: NBA stats instantly. This is a must-have for any basketball fan.
  • StravistiX: This takes all the data that Strava has about my rides and actually makes it useful by adding so much stuff I can't even begin to name it all. It's pretty insane how detailed it gets. If you ride bikes, check it out.
  • Cog: A beautiful system info viewer for Chrome OS.
  • File System for Dropbox: Access your Dropbox storage from the native file manager in Chrome OS. Invaluable.
  • Imagus: Hover over links or thumbnail images to view the full-size picture without clicking on it. A huge time-saver.



I don't play a lot of games, mostly because I don't have time for them. Because of work at AP, spending time with my family, riding bikes, and playing guitar, games kind of get put on the backburner. I actually hate that being the case — I love games. I miss when I had what seemed like all the time in the world to do nothing but goof off all the time. Being an adult sucks.

But I digress. I do play some games — some just casual, others a bit more "seriously." Here's my list.

  • Android: The Walking Dead No Man's Land — This is currently my favorite Android game. I check it a billion times a day, if for nothing else but to gather my resources and start on some upgrades.
  • Android: Corridor Z — This is a nice little time-killer. I don't play it often, but I do keep it installed on every device I own.
  • Android/Android TV: Unkilled — It's basically Dead Trigger 3. I like zombies and stuff.
  • Android/Android TV: NBA Jam — Basketball, man! Boomshakalaka!
  • SHIELD Android TV: Metal Gear Rising Revengeance — I still can't believe that this is on SHIELD TV. It's mind blowing that this is basically running on mobile hardware! Also, I'm terrible at this game.
  • SHIELD Android TV: Contrast — Another great game for SHIELD owners. NVIDIA is doing a great job on the SHIELD game scene.
  • PS4: Mortal Kombat X — I've always loved Mortal Kombat, and X is probably my favorite to date. I'm also incredibly stoked that Leatherface is coming in Kombat Pack II. I absolutely can't wait. He's my favorite super hero.
  • PS4: The Last of Us Remastered — Literally the best game I've ever played. Seriously. I played through it like 7 times on the PS3, and one of the main reasons I got a PS4 was for the remastered version. If I could only play one game for the rest of my life, it would be this. I can't even explain how much I love it. So hoping for a sequel. Soon.
  • Wii U: Mario Kart 8 — Mario Kart has always been, and will always be, basically the best racing game ever of all time. And I love MK8.

Home Office

I was going to say that my office hadn't really changed much since my last post, but then I went back and looked at my last post. Turns out everything that could be different, is. Who knew? These changes are so gradual, I didn't even realize that pretty much everything from the 2014 post had been replaced with something different and/or more betterer. Without further ado, here's some of the junk in my office:

TV: Vizio P602ui-B3 60" 4k


I watch more TV and play more games in my office than anywhere else (at least for now), so when it came time to get a new TV, I wanted to do it right. I got this 4K Vizio 60-inch, and I couldn't be happier with it. I test so many TV-related boxes and the like, it just made sense to go 4K this time, even though I'm sure it'll be far more affordable over the next year or so. Once the price is right, I highly recommend everyone hopping on the 4K thing — it'll change how you watch TV (well, I mean, you'll probably still sit down on the couch or wherever and just stare at a screen, so I guess it won't really change how you watch…just how much you enjoy it). Yeah.

Streaming and Gaming: SHIELD, Chromecast, Chromecast Audio, PS4, and Wii U


Streaming devices are quickly becoming one of my favorite "up and coming" markets to watch, which is another reason why I went with a big-ass 4K TV. I love reviewing this stuff, and I've used essentially every new box on the market, and ended up sticking with SHIELD as my main box. It's easily the fastest of the bunch, and I have the SHIELD Pro, so it's got 500GB of storage. At $300 it is a bit pricey, but I think it's totally worth it, especially if you want to play games on it. I love my SHIELD, and easily give it the nod as best set-top box. Yep.

But when it comes to simplicity, it's hard (if not impossible) to beat Chromecast. If I didn't want to spend $300 on a set-top box, but still wanted the option to stream stuff to my TV, Chromecast would be the only way I'd go. I also really like the new Fire TV stick and think it's a better choice for some users, but I'd personally stick with Chromecast.

Chromecast Audio is a whole different thing though, and I think we'll really start to see what a game-change it is over the course of 2016. It essentially does what Sonos Connect is made for, but at a freakin' tenth of the price. And now that it has multi-room support, it's even better. I'm very excited to see what Google does with CC Audio in the coming months.

wm_IMG_7578 wm_IMG_7579

So, back on the gaming thing. I have a PS4 and a Wii U. I've only had the PS4 for a few months, so I only have a couple of games for it (The Last of Us Remastered, MKX, and The Evil Within), but I absolutely love it. I've always been a Playstation guy (seriously, suck it Xbox fanboys), and the PS4 is the best Playstation yet. I recently picked up one of those Nyko charging stations for the controllers, which immediately made my life so much better. It's the little things, you know?

I find that I use my PS4 about as often as SHIELD, but the only thing I stream from it is NBA League Pass games. I find the quality is just better on the PS4 than on Android. Otherwise, it's just for games. I need more games though.

When it comes to family fun, it's hard to beat the Wii U if we're stuck in front of the TV. We had the original Wii (and the kids still play it), so it only made sense to upgrade to the Wii U. Also, it has Mario Kart 8, which I've already shared my feelings on. I miss wheelies, though.

Desk: IKEA Bekant Sit/Stand


lol ignore those cables ok

I cannot stress this enough: this is my favorite piece of work-related gear I've ever purchased. After using my Ikea Linnmon top and Alex drawers with the Varidesk on top for like a year, I got really tired of not having full use of my entire desk when standing. So I sold off the Varidesk and bit the bullet on the Bekant electric sit/stand desk from Ikea. That may be the best choice I've ever made.

I find that I use it standing about 90 percent of the time, but I love how simple it is to bring down to a sitting level with just the press of a button. It doesn't have some of the fancier features of the more expensive electric desks (like buttons for pre-set heights), but I don't really mind. How hard is it to hold a button for 12 seconds while the desk raises and lowers? If that's your quarrel with this desk, then I fear you have more wrong with your life than a standing desk will fix.

While I will readily admit that it's a bit pricey, I wouldn't trade this desk for anything. It's basically the perfect desk for me and how I work — if something happened to it, I'd readily replace it in a heartbeat. I highly recommend it.

Also my chair is a balance ball. I like that, too.

Leisure and Fun

OK, so I think most of the stuff up to this point has been "work" related in one way or another, even though a lot of it also serves double-duty as fun stuff (but I'm lucky enough to have a fun job, so it just works out). Below is the stuff that has basically nothing at all to do with work, Android, or anything else. This is the niche stuff that I personally just love and can't stop nerding out on. Read on if you're interested in any of this stuff. If not, well, whatever. Fine.

Musical Equipment

Guitars: Fender Blacktop Telecasters, ESP LTD F-400


In December of 2014, I got my first Fender Blacktop Telecaster. That guitar — the silver one above — made me fall in love with guitar all over again, and showed me how comfortable a guitar can be when you find "the one." Since then, I sold a few of my other guitars and bought a second Blacktop. I changed the pickups in both, as well as the bridges. They're both modified to exactly what I want, and I love them. Here's a quick look at the specs of each for you guitar nerds out there:

Silver Telecaster, aka my "Bulls Tele"

  • Tuning: Drop B, 11-56 D'Addario strings
  • Wood: Alder body, maple neck, rosewood board
  • Hardware: Hipshot bridge and volume knob, stock Fender tuners
  • Bridge pickup: Seymour Duncan Distortion
  • Neck pickup: Seymour Duncan Jazz
  • Other modifications: flipped control plate (standard Tele style), momentary killswitch arcade button, exposed forearm contour

Red Telecaster, aka my "Red Tele"

  • Tuning: Standard E, 9-46 D'Addario strings
  • Wood: Alder body, maple neck, rosewood board
  • Hardware: Hipshot bridge and volume knob, stock Fender tuners
  • Bridge pickup: Seymour Duncan Custom
  • Neck pickup: Seymour Duncan '59
  • Other modifications: flipped control plate (standard Tele style), momentary killswitch arcade button


I also still have my ESP LTD F-400, though I don't play it that much. It's basically my all metal, all the time guitar, and I'm generally a little more versatile than that. When I want to play super drop-tuned stuff, though, this is my huckleberry.

LTD F-400, aka my "F"

  • Tuning: Drop A, 13-62 D'Addario baritone light strings
  • Wood: Mahogany body with flamed maple top, maple neck, rosewood board
  • Hardware: Hipshot volume knob, stock Gotoh tuners
  • Bridge pickup: EMG 81
  • Neck pickup: EMG 89 (this pickup is terrible; never buy one)
  • Other modifications: momentary killswitch arcade button

I play all my guitars with Dunlop Big Stubby 3.0 picks, which I think are just the best damn things on earth. I love 'em.

Amps: Orange Crush 35RT and Orange CR120 w/ Avatar 2x12 cabinet

wm_IMG_7598 wm_IMG_7600

I've had a variety of amps over the course of my life as a guitarist, but it's been over the last two years or so that I really started to define what I want to sound like. The last time I did a post like this, I had a badass EVH 5150 III, which is a generally great amp…just not really what I wanted. After last year's NAMM show, I pre-ordered the little Orange Crush 35RT because I've always wanted an Orange amp, and I fell in love with it. Despite just being a "practice" amp, I ended up playing that little amp 90 percent of the time, so I decided to sell my EVH and buy the "full-size" version of the Crush 35: the Crush Pro CR120. I paired it with an Avatar G212 Contemporary closed-back 2x12 cabinet, which is loaded with the staple speakers for rock and metal players: Celestion Vintage 30s.

wm_IMG_7604 wm_IMG_7602

I got both the head and cab slightly used (from different sellers on Craigslist), which saved me a ton of money — probably about 50 percent of the retail cost. While many guitarists scoff at the fact that I went from a killer tube amp to a solid state head and cab, I honestly couldn't be happier with my choice. I love my Orange amps — the only thing that would make it better is if I had a Rockerverb Mk III. Alas, that's a few thousand dollars I don't have right now. Or probably ever.



Confession: Some of those pedals aren't currently hooked up because I need more cables. 

Along with the whole "defining my sound" thing, I started messing with pedals. This is something that I never really got into before, but since my guitars and amps are basically on lockdown at this point, it's been really fun experimenting with slight variations of sounds by using different pedals. I've got the staples here: a wah, distortion/boost, EQ, delay, chorus, and noise gate, but my favorite is that big red beast: the Digitech Whammy DT.

Buckethead is my favorite guitarist of all time, so I really just wanted a whammy to play a lot of his stuff with. But then I saw the DT — which stands for Drop Tune — and knew this was my pedal. It can cover a massive range of tunings: everything from an octave high to an octave low. This way, I can play pretty much anything I want using just my three guitars. From Standard E to Drop F and lower, I've got it covered. Best of all, it's got very little modulation, so everything sounds mostly natural. The more it deviates from the guitar's tuning, the easier it is to tell that it's an effect, but I don't mind that too much.

And all that is on top of the killer Whammy functionality.


2014 Specialized Roubaix Disc


Note: My Roubaix is on the trainer for the winter so this is a slightly older picture. Not shown: ergonomic bars and Speedplay Zero pedals.

At the end of 2014, I upgraded from the hybrid that I was riding in my past WWU post, to the Specialized Roubaix Disc. Since getting that bike, it has been basically gutted and completely made-over, with the only stock features being the frame and fork at this point. Here's the skinny:

  • Carbon fiber frame and fork
  • Shimano Ultegra 6800 (11-speed) shifters, derailleurs, cassette, and chain
  • 50/34 Rotor Q-Rings
  • Rotor 3D+ crankset
  • Speedplay Zero pedals
  • H Plus Son Archetype wheels with American Classic Hubs, custom built
  • Specialized Turbo Cotton 26c tires
  • Specialized S-Works 110mm stem
  • Specialized ergonomic carbon handlebar
  • Specialized S-Works CG-R carbon seatpost
  • Specialized Power Expert saddle
  • Shoes: Specialized Audax
  • Helmet: Specialized Airnet

To say that I love this bike is an understatement. It's comfortable and capable, buttery smooth, and looks great. The comfort does come at the cost of speed — something like a Tarmac would've been a rougher, yet snappier ride — but I'm OK with that. I don't ride competitively, so going as fast as I possibly can isn't something that interests me all that much. Sure, I like to push myself, and maybe eventually I'll get a Tarmac (or Allez Sprint — my God those look amazing), but for now, the Roubaix is a worthy steed. I love it.

2013 Specialized Sirrus


When I got the Roubaix, the Sirrus went to the garage and stayed there for months. More recently, I've been wanting to get into more gravel, dirt, and other off-road style riding, so I've been looking at gravel bikes. Then it hit me: I have a great bike for this type of riding, and a full road-style drivetrain (that came off the Roubaix during its upgrade) just sitting in the garage. Honestly, the conversion couldn't have gone better — all the parts I had worked on the Sirrus perfectly, and since it's a size smaller than I should've been riding, the geometry worked out perfectly for the extended reach of drop bars. I threw some heavier-duty rubber on there with the WTB Nano 40c tires (which I couldn't believe fit), and it became my new gravel, off-road, bad weather rig. I was so pleased to be able to breathe new life into this bike, too, since my wife originally got it for me as a gift and I'm a total sap about shit like that.

Anyway, here are the specs:

  • Aluminum frame, steel fork
  • Shimano Sora shifters, crankset, and derailleurs
  • SRAM 9-speed 11-32 cassette and chain
  • Shimano M520 mountain pedals
  • Stock Alex wheels
  • WTB Nano 40c tires
  • Specialized carbon seatpost
  • Specialized Power Expert saddle
  • Shoes: Specialized Mountain Sport

Eventually I'd like to put slightly more robust wheels on it and upgrade to Shimano 105 11-speed (or SRAM Rival 22) components, but that's a ways out. For now, I'm just happy to have it back in action. And with my Roubaix on the trainer for the colder months, this is my "get out and ride on decent days" rig.

Misc: Headblade ATX


I've been a head-shaver for close to a decade, and the Headblade ATX is the best head-shaving razor that money can buy. At this point, there's absolutely no way I'd ever want to go back to a traditional razor for shaving my head. That would be torture. If you like to rock the dome as smooth as possible, do yourself a favor and pick one up.


OK, so that's basically most of my favorite stuff, apps, games, etc. Stuff I use basically every day (at least try to). If you've got questions, feel free to drop 'em below.