A-Players: Week of February 7th

Hello again all,

This week's A-Players was a joy to put together for you - I feel like I've had more fun and read through some of the best pieces in awhile this week. It ought to be a good ride for you guys as well.

We'll trek through some long but worthwhile reads showcasing travel photography and interface design, hear some personal stories from one of the developers of Crashlands, look at some gorgeous photographs of a very certain pencil, and top it all off by learning a bit about coffee and proper hair-care.

Oh, and as for the dry spell of feature-length posts from me? That ends this coming Monday.

For now though, dig into this week's edition of A-Players and enjoy. Thank you as always for reading alongside me. And I'll see you all back here next week.

  • A Review of the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard - Tools and Toys - Starting this week off with a piece well-worth highlight, Josh Ginter's review of the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro Smart Keyboard was one of my favorites to look through and read. While he's not so hot on the Smart Keyboard, Josh did a fantastic job giving a window into how he uses the Pencil to really improve his studying and learning workflow for school. He really loves it, and it shows both through his written explanations and the excellent product shots. All of Josh's work is good, but there's that little something extra when he's really in love with what he's shooting. A great piece.

  • Design Explosions #4: Office Mobile - UX Launchpad - I always hesitate when showcasing close every entry in a series of posts, but I can't help myself when the pieces are as good as the ones in the Design Explosions series. Featuring a hyper-detailed look at what goes into software interface design, these are some of my favorite pieces I've read in the past year, and this latest entry is no different. The analysis of Microsoft Office Mobile - in its many screen sizes across 3 different platforms, all with similar-but-different needs - is absolutely a massive undertaking. And maybe I'm just a nerd, but I found it absolutely fascinating and a great read. If you haven't read anything from the Design Explosions series yet, then jump right in. Seriously.

  • The Leica Q - Craig Mod - In another gargantuan piece, photographer Craig Mod reports in on his 6-months now using Leica's newest crown jewel - The Leica Q. While I do find myself pining a little for the 'Q after reading through this awesome review, I find myself moreso inspired by the great photography and storytelling that went along with it. I think that's how you can tell a truly photography-focused camera review apart from a gear-focused one: you'll leave the photography-focused piece inspired to take more photos, rather than to spend a bunch of money on a new camera. Maybe that's just me, but I found Craig's piece to be one of the best product reviews I've read in a while now.

  • 'The Last Game I Make Before I Die': Fighting Cancer By Making A Video Game - Kotaku - I told you guys a couple weeks ago that I'd be into Crashlands for a long time, and this link from Kotaku interviewing one of the games' devs should serve as proof that's been true so far. This interview goes even more in-depth with Sam Coster, whose cancer battle inspired and drove Crashlands to it's eventual completion. I'm still working my way through Crashlands, and hearing more from Sam in this interview only makes me appreciate the game all the more.

  • With Pour-Over, the Coffee Machine Is Just a Human - The Atlantic - In our coffee-related link for the week, The Atlantic wrote up a great overview piece on the Pourover brew-method and what makes it so great. I find that I'm more of an espresso man myself - and thankfully I have the access to a proper machine to support that preference/addiction - but I still make pourovers all the time and have been known to enjoy one every now and again. This piece is absolutely perfect for the uninitiated, and was also a fun read for a coffee nerd like myself.

  • A Beginner's Guide to Growing and Maintaining Men's Long Hair - Tools and Toys - Never before has Tools & Toys published a guide that ended up so tailored to me. For those of you who have been following me for a little while, you may have seen that I do indeed have quite long hair, and I am a man. My hair is in pretty good shape - by no means perfect - and I thought I was taking as good care of it as I needed to, but this guide proved me straight wrong. Conditioners, oils, proper washing and brushing - oy vey do I still have a lot to learn. I'm not sure how many of you this will apply to out there, but I certainly think it's a great piece.