I’ve been reading Malcom Gladwell’s newest book, The Bomber Mafia, which focuses on the development of a WWII theory that strategic bombing is more affective than carpet bombing. In the book, he briefly explores a topic that really piqued my interest — Transactive Memory.

Putting it simply, transactive memory is a sort of psychological phenomenon where two (or more) people can actually store memories inside someone else’s mind. Typically this would be a spouse, best friend, or co-worker.

As an example, you never worry about remembering the WiFi password because it’s stored in their mind. The same might apply to the grocery list, important dates, parts of a presentation, financial numbers, etc.

Here’s Wikipedia on the topic:

Transactive memory is a psychological hypothesis first proposed by Daniel Wegner in 1985 as a response to earlier theories of “group mind” such as groupthink. A transactive memory system is a mechanism through which groups collectively encode, store, and retrieve knowledge. Transactive memory was initially studied in couples and families where individuals had close relationships but was later extended to teams, larger groups, and organizations to explain how they develop a “group mind”, a memory system that is more complex and potentially more effective than that of any of its individual constituents. A transactive memory system includes memory stored in each individual, the interactions between memory within the individuals, as well as the processes that update this memory. Transactive memory, then, is the shared store of knowledge.

If this gets your mind working, I highly encourage you to read the article and do some research on it. It’s really an interesting and mind-bending theory. Also, The Bomber Mafia is worth a read.

I’ve always had an obsession with researching products before I buy them. I get a lot of joy out of getting the best of something. Don’t confuse best with most expensive. Of course, there are times where you truly get what you pay for, and the most expensive thing is the best thing. However, that’s often not the case.

My 2021 Holiday Gift Guide includes 9 products that I’ve personally used and recommend. A few are pricier than their counterparts, but for good reason. Most are what I would classify as best-bang-for-your-buck.

1. An Automatic Watch

In the age of smart watches, sometimes it’s nice to go back to the basics. If you’re unfamiliar with watches, there are 3 main classifications: mechanical, automatic, and quartz. Mechanical watches require you to wind them up every day or two. Quartz watches use batteries.

Right in the middle of that are automatic watches. They don’t need a battery AND don’t need to be wound up. Simply wearing them keeps them functional. I won’t get into the specifics, but let’s just say its a feat of engineering.

Automatic watches can run in to the thousands of dollars, but not my pick. For around $200, you can score this fantastic Seiko 5 Sports Automatic Watch.

2. MagSafe Battery for iPhone

If the man in your life has an iPhone from the last couple of years, then it is likely MagSafe Compatible. This means that certain accessories can utilize magnets in the phone to attach to it without adhesive or wires.

The best of these accessories, in my opinion, is the MagSafe Battery made by Apple. It’s an external battery pack that connects to your iPhone without wires and keeps it charged up. It’s great for long days away from a charger.

3. KeyBar Jr Key Organizer

You may have seen key organizers before, particular those by KeySmart, but this one is heads and shoulders above the rest. It’s simple, durable, and solid. The company also offers a whole lineup of accessories you might like to add.

My advice is to get the KeyBar Jr and let him decide what accessories he wants.

4. Vybe Massage Gun

If you watch sports at all, you’ve probably seen athletes using a fancy massage gun on their back or legs while on the sideline or in the dugout, etc. These guns by the major manufactures run upwards of $500.

If you’re not a world class athlete, you shouldn’t spend that on one of these things. Instead, go with this truly excellent alternative. The Vybe Massage Gun comes with all the attachments (and a case) he’ll ever need. It works flawlessly and will have him feeling like new pretty quickly.

5. MagSafe PopSocket

This attaches to an iPhone in the same way as the above MagSafe Battery. Because it is easily removable, it also allows you use other MagSafe products (battery, wallets, car mounts, wireless chargers, etc).

I’ve used the MagSafe PopSocket ever since it debuted and have had no issues. It never comes unattached without me directly attempting to take it off. But because it CAN come off, it doesn’t get in the way of my other accessories.

6. Leuchtturm1917 Notebook

In today’s digital world, we often use our phones to capture quick thoughts and notes, but sometimes you just need good old fashioned pen and paper. Personally, I like to keep a nice notebook at my desk for quick notes when working or researching.

The Leuchtturm1917 is much more than a typical I-found-it-at-Target notebook. Get his hands on one to feel the difference and he’ll never go another route.

7. Ridge Wallet

Men carry our wallets every single day to every single destination. We use it multiple times a day on average. It stores some of the most important cards, documents, and cash that we possess. Yet we often are using and entrusting a $20 joke of a wallet to handle the task.

Enough of that. Get him a real wallet. And there is none better than the Ridge Wallet. It’s compact, insanely durable, and kind of sexy.

8. Civivi Baby Banter

If the guy you’re buying for is a knife snob, don’t buy him a knife. There is a good chance he will spend multiple hundreds on what he carries, and you’ll never be able to pick the right one.

However, if he just enjoys carrying a knife for when it’s needed and likes the utility of one, grab him a Civivi Baby Banter. It’s small enough to be discrete when wearing a suit or at a formal event, but solid and formidable enough to get into any Amazon package, cut any rope, etc. It doesn’t give off mall ninja vibes and he won’t use it for his next knife fight, but he’ll definitely appreciate the new tool.

For past knife recommendations, read A Pocket Knife for Most People.

9. Pilot G2 Mini

The regular size Pilot G2 pen is one of the most popular affordable pens in the world. Even better is the Mini Pilot G2. It slips easily in and out of a jean pocket. It’s cheap enough that you won’t lose sleep when he inevitably throws one in the wash.

If you make a purchase after clicking one of the links above, I may receive a small commission from Amazon (not from the product manufacturers).

Making Major Family Time

My wife and I have been pretty good about day-to-day family time, but we’ve sorely missed family travel since the pandemic started. We were always a family who took every opportunity to hop on a plane (when we had enough points) to take the kids places.

With that not being an easy option with young children at this point in time, we’ve recently gone on old school road trips. We’ve hit most of the reachable destinations at least once (and in some cases many times).

While trying to decide on a destination for our next trip, we decided to look close. Really close. As in within 45 minutes. It’s amazing what’s right around the corner if you look hard enough.

We found an animal preserve in the middle of nowhere. Llamas, sloths, parrots, camels, hyenas, kangaroos, ostriches, emus, lynxes, otters, opossums, and donkeys. They also had a hayride and a corn maze.

Family experiences are important. Take a few minutes and find a few interesting things to do this holiday season. You’ll remember them forever!

This Braves season has been a wild ride. Joc Pederson puts it all in perspective.

It wasn’t anything crazy at first. No huge winning streak out of the gate. No dramatic changes. It wasn’t like in the movies where the music hits and the team just rips off a bunch of W’s. It was more of a gradual thing, you know what I mean? It’s like at some point we just started winning a little more than we were losing.

The World Series

I’ve been a diehard baseball fan for my entire life. The love of the game was passed on to me from my dad and we (me and my wife) have since passed it on to my kids. What my dad didn’t pass on to me was a specific team loyalty. He grew up rooting for the Houston Astros (born and raised in Texas), but for the majority of my formative years, I lived in Louisiana without daily access to the Astros.

Back in those days, there were no all access streaming apps. However, you could always depend on watching one team every single day on national TV, no matter where you lived. The Atlanta Braves on TBS. Alongside millions of other kids my age, I developed a love for the likes of Terry Pendleton, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones, Andruw Jones, Javy Lopez, Mark Lemke, and countless others. I was addicted to the sport and to the Braves.

Matt and Kalena Langford with John Scheurholz

Over the years, they had a minor rivalry with a few playoff bouts between them (the Astros used to be in the National League). Overall, though, I’ve always classified them as my second favorite team. I wanted good things for them when it didn’t come at the expense of the Braves. GO ASTROS sometimes.

We have always enjoyed traveling to games. Pre-COVID, we made at least one annual trip to Atlanta to watch the Braves. Whether Turner Field or SunTrust/Truist Park, we couldn’t resist staying away for long. While the move to Cobb County was controversial for the Braves, there’s no denying that for our family, it made things much easier. The hotels, the Battery, the parking, the things-to-do were much improved.

But as fans of the sport overall, we’re still in closer proximity to Houston. Every year, we take multiple trips to Houston to hit up Minute Maid Park to catch the Astros. Unfortunately, the Braves very rarely travel there…so we are Astros fans when we visit.

Our ultimate loyalty though is to the Braves. They’re first and foremost. In fact, we even try to catch their Double A Minor League Affiliate, the Mississippi Braves when possible. The best place to do that in our opinion is when they play in Pensacola against the Blue Wahoos (Marlins affiliate).

Over the years, there has been very little conflict directly between the two teams. Both teams (along with many others who avoid the headlines) have been accused of impropriety. The Braves GM was suspended for life from the sport and a dozen or so minor leaguers had their contracts terminated because of unethical front office shenanigans. Every one knows what the Astros did, so no need to recap that.

Both teams restructured their management and approaches, and are once again at the top of the sport. It’s going to be a fun/stressful couple of weeks. Enjoy the World Series.

Go Braves.

This is some spectacularly cool and nerdy stuff. The process of product design can be mind blowing.

Now, there are a lot of mysteries in the Panic Archives (it’s a closet) but by far one of the most mysterious is what you’re seeing for the first time today: an original early iPod prototype.

We don’t know much about where it came from. But we’ve been waiting 20 years to share it with you.

Click through to see the story and more photos.

This is one of the best made shortcuts you’ll ever find for the Shortcuts app on your iPhone. It takes any screen shot from any Apple device and properly places it into the correct frame.

If you have a series of shots, it’ll even lay them all out properly for you (even if they’re different device types.)

Today, I’m pleased to introduce Apple Frames 2.0, an all-new version of my popular shortcut to put screenshots inside physical device frames of Apple products. The new Apple Frames, which you can download at the end of this post or on the MacStories Shortcuts Archive, has been completely rewritten so it’s faster and lighter, comes with support for the latest iPhone 13 lineup and iPad mini, brings support for framing iMac and MacBook Air screenshots, and, at long last, is available internationally in seven different languages.

It’s free, it’s perfect.

If you use Gmail, it has been a long time since there has been a legitimate non-browser based client specifically for the service. Apple Mail and others can get the job done, but none have all of the expected Gmail features integrated.

Mimestream, in open beta, looks to fill that gap. Thanks to Six Colors for surfacing this for me.

As a native app written in Swift, Mimestream leverages the full power of macOS to deliver a lightning-fast and instantly familiar experience. Instead of using the IMAP protocol, Mimestream utilizes the Gmail API to enable an enhanced set of features that let you work with ease.

For my personal email, I’ve moved to iCloud as I’m able to get all of the features I like (2 TB storage, custom domain, privacy) with my Apple One plan. But I still have to use Gmail for work.

With the new iOS and iPadOS 15, Apple has enabled extensions in Safari. These are typically utilities that can do one or two small things that positively affect your web browsing experience. Things like better password management, universal dark mode, and easy coupon finding are some examples.

There are a couple of ways to install Safari extensions for iOS and iPadOS 15. First, you can go to the Settings app, select Safari, and inside the Extensions section, turn on any extensions you’ve installed and give them permission to interact with webpages. Second, you can enable or disable extensions by tapping on the puzzle piece icon in the address bar and then choosing ‘Manage Extensions.’

I think John Voorhees at MacStories did a great job at sorting through and picking some of the best ones currently available.

The two that I like the most so far are Achoo (for web designers/developers) and StopTheMadness.

People have been talking about “freaky” and “invasive” ads for years. Recently, Apple dropped a privacy bomb on the companies like Facebook who have relied on selling these ads.

Apple’s iOS changes may lead to irreparable harm to Facebook’s ad business. This moment has demonstrated to Paul and his fellow performance buyers that relying on one channel (albeit a very effective one) is risky. So they’re looking to diversify their ad spend. Paul said he’s moved his ad budget elsewhere, including “Snapchat and TikTok, but also silent killers like email.” On Twitter, Facebook marketers discussing Apple’s changes almost unanimously agreed they needed to follow suit. 

Many people believe that Facebook is the product you use to communicate. However, the fact is YOU are the product Facebook sells go advertisers. Apple tied their hands a bit on that front, and it’s hitting them hard.

Concern over Facebook’s ability to weather Apple’s attack is already translating to quick consequences in the stock market. The company’s stock dropped nearly 4% on Wednesday, and some faithful investors are bailing. “I probably, over the last two days, have sold almost half that position,” said trader Jon Najarian on CNBC Wednesday. Facebook, he added, was once his second-largest holding.

Hopefully even more can be done to limit this type of targeted advertising.