My name is Mike, I've been writing for Unplggd for a year and a half now and I just finished up the craziest year of my life. I graduated school in May and came up to New York for a job working as a graphic designer for an international branding agency. I've been so busy finishing up school, moving to a new city, and adjusting to working life that I haven't had much time to spare for tech. Consequently most of the things I've been using have had to have a highly utilitarian function helping me get things done. But that's not to say everything is all work and no play. I've incorporated a few playful and entertaining odds and ends along the way as well.
Chill Pill Light
This was a total impulse buy at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago but I'm really glad I picked it up. Essentially it's a tiny little light that turns on and off by a simple twist and it will rock on it's base which is weighted if you hit it. The design is really simple and playful which is what attracted me to it. If you get a bunch of them together on a coffee table or dining room table it can make quite an impressive look.
One day when I was doing a small photo shoot in my apartment, my cat Sadie happened upon the backdrop and I snapped some quick photos of her. I loved the bold contrast of the photos and decided it'd make a great wallpaper. So for years now, my only wallpaper for my two personal computers, my work computer, iPhone, and iPad has been this photo of my cat. It's an excellent motivational boost to see first thing on a Monday or whenever I unlock my phone.
My Grandmother's Lamp
This lamp made it into my top 10 last year and I simply couldn't find a suitable replacement for it on the list this year. I got this from her house after she had passed away and have used it on my desk ever since. I think it's colonial body contrasts nicely with my minimalist decor, adding just enough detail and interest to keep the desk from appearing cold. It also has 3 settings of brightness so I can gradually turn it down as my night wears on. It's another nice reminder of her in my daily life.
Following Anthony's lead, my bike is very important to me. It is a custom frame which I built myself so its been customized perfectly to my body and preferences, giving me a close affinity to it. Clearly I don't treat it as nicely as Anthony has his. Mine is a tank. I use it in any weather, all year long. It gets me from point A to B without much fuss and I love it for that. It's a pleasure to ride and of course its nice to use transportation which is not only sustainable but healthy as well. Thankfully New York and Philadelphia (where I'm from) are both excellent cities for biking.
As silly as this sounds, I think Quicktime 10 in many ways is a perfect application. It embodies much of Apple's design philosophies of being minimal, intuitive, and high-performing. My favorite element about it is the UI which is not only easy to navigate but it automatically fades away when not in use. Move the cursor on top the screen and it reappears. It couldn't really be more simple yet the effect is elegant and functional.
As cliche as it is at this point, my iPhone 4 has been such an integral part of my life, it's impossible to not include it on the list. It's a multipurpose tool that has likely saved me tons of money and paid for itself many times over. When I moved to New York it was especially helpful in navigating the city and subway.
Sidney & Sons Bag
I can't ignore my go-to bag for work and travel. It is a heavy-duty, handmade bag from an Etsy seller based in Manhattan. What I really like about it is the interior pocket which not only holds my keys and pens but seems to be made exactly for an iPad which slips in so easily. It can also fit my 17" Macbook Pro like a charm. I've been using this bag for a while now and its held up very well. And looking back on the Sidney & Sons page, it seems as though the seller has greatly enhanced her designs and materials to make them even better than before.
This has been an excellent 2nd-step camera in my photography journey. I began with a D40 and after feeling comfortable with all of the settings and options of Nikon's basic model, I decided to take the next move performance-wise and step up my game. The camera has given me much more opportunity in my creative output and shooting videos with it has been a lot of fun. I'm doubtful I'll need to upgrade bodies for a very long time since this one is so robust as it is.
If it wasn't for Seamless, I'm not sure what I'd do. I probably use this new online food ordering service at least 4 times a week, sometimes many more. When I get home late from work, the last thing I want to do is worry about where I want to go out and grab food or what restaurant I should call and deal with ordering over the phone. (Yes, cooking food is out of the question!) Thankfully, Seamless lives up to its name. It's incredibly easy to order from a multitude of available restaurants. Customize your order EXACTLY as you like it and know there won't be any detail lost over the phone. They've also gone the extra mile to include details like the option to refuse paper plates and utensils. Often times when you order delivery it's unnecessary and people wind up throwing the stuff away. This is a slightly more environmentally friendly option which I can always support.
This probably wins the title for the stupidest name of the year as well. Thankfully its performance greatly outweighs the embarrassing moniker. I bought this in hopes of using it for get-togethers with friends on my roof. And it couldn't have done a better job for its price. There are multidirectional speakers in the dock which means you can place it in the center of your circle and everyone can hear the music. There is a rubberized foot to prevent slipping and make it water resistant. It has a 4-6 hour battery life and sounds fantastic for $100. I'm already dying for spring to come so I can take it out of hibernation.