Author Archives: Bryan Villarin

About Bryan Villarin

Bryan is a Happiness Engineer at Automattic. He's also a photographer and card magician. He loves reading — especially with Instapaper — and watching Seinfeld reruns.

Review: Cloak Personal VPN

If you’re using your smartphone or laptop on a free Wi-Fi connection, you totally need a personal VPN service. At WordCamp Los Angeles 2013, Jason Cosper mentioned his favorite personal VPN service, Cloak. Now, I’m a fan of Cloak! It’s fast and simple to set up.

I have the 5GB Mini Plan for $2.99/month, which is sufficient for now since I don’t stray too far from home with an unsecured connection on my iPhone. It’s seems easy enough to upgrade to their Unlimited Plan for $9.99/month. My wife and I use iPhones and MacBook Air laptops, and we can share a single account.

If you’re worried about how long they keep personal session information (data related to your Cloak account), their Policies page is written in plain English.

Another notable read on their blog: Why Trust Matters When Choosing a VPN

Give it a try! :)

About these ads

Review: Abco Tech Bluetooth waterproof speaker

For Christmas last year, Amy gave me an Abco Tech Waterproof Wireless Bluetooth Shower Speaker & Handsfree speakerphone for one of my gifts. :)

Most days, I use it for 10–20 minutes, mainly for 89.3 KPCC. Music sounds good, too.

After a couple of months, it finally needed to be charged because the battery indicator was low.

Solid, great suction, and sounds good (considering the environment and acoustics). I like it.

Review: Glif by Studio Neat

My wife has fun recording time–lapse videos — with an app that escapes my memory at the moment — and taking photos with her iPhone, so I bought her a Glif by Studio Neat. It helps that John Gruber recommends it. ;)

Even though since she hasn’t been using it as much, I think I’ll get one for myself soon.

I read while eating breakfast or lunch, and it’s super comfortable when my iPhone is held up with the Glif.

Since I sometimes carry a Bluetooth keyboard, I can also use it for writing in a pinch if I don’t want to take out my laptop.

Simplenote revisions, you SAVED us!

Last week, I created a new item to document notes, ideas, and tasks for the move to our new place. I’ve shared it with Amy so she can refer and add to it.1

Yesterday, she got distracted, selected all the text by accident, and typed some gibberish — wiping out all the text about our new place.

(I estimate the damage was worth writing and brainstorming for a couple of hours.)

Fortunately, Simplenote — like most excellent products and services — includes revision history.

Yay! :)


  1. I think it’s time to split things up into separate notes. 

Custom Roost Laptop Stand for 11–inch MacBook Air

Bryan's current setup

I was stoked to receive a The Roost as one of several awesome Automattic Christmas gifts a few months ago. While it wouldn’t fit my 11″ MacBook Air, I saw Joey Kudish receive one that would fit. After a few pings and a couple of days, a custom Roost stand arrived.

(How am I worthy?!)

Previously, I used a mStand laptop stand by Rain Design. It was okay and stylish, but it didn’t compare to the raised height of The Roost.

Another bonus: I love the portability! Along with my Bluetooth keyboard and trackpad, when I venture out with my laptop and backpack, I bring The Roost.

I’m fortunate that I don’t feel shoulder or neck pain, so taking steps like this hopefully means I can prevent it.

To James Olander and Warren Kleban: thank you for making this happen!

The close call

While in Budapest during our meetup, I almost cracked my head open, and nobody would’ve been there to help.

After an excellent day one at Write The Docs EU, I took a shower in preparation to pass out. Drying myself afterwords, as I lifted one foot, I lost balance in the other and fell backwards out of the tub. I attempted to catch myself, but I couldn’t hold onto anything.

How embarrassing. I felt like such a dork. (I promise I didn’t hit my head; I fell onto my back.)

Here’s a scary thought: The sink was about one foot away from my head.

My roommate recently returned to our apartment, so at least he would’ve found me. I think.

Taxicab in Budapest

When we arrive in Budapest, Jeremy directed us to the small taxicab building HQ outside the airport doors. We wouldn’t need to get cash at the airport since most places around the city take credit card.

I showed them my destination address, and they printed out a slip for my driver.

Removing a credit card from my wallet, I asked, “Do you accept credit cards?”

“Yes. No problem.”

After a quiet thirty–minute drive, we arrived about fifty meters from my apartments. My driver pulled over onto the left side of the narrow street, right before it veered in another direction.

Budapest Taxicab 2014-03-30

I handed him my credit card, and he said he couldn’t take it. Only cash.

Rage and disbelief. Panic, really.

I would sprint into the apartments to get my friends. Reluctantly, he nodded, and off I went.

At the reception office, and asked if Jeremy checked in. I couldn’t use my cell phone (no SIM card yet). I ran around and failed to find the room, blaming the lack of signs. Then, Elizabeth and Karen magically appeared! After waiting a couple of minutes, Elizabeth found Jeremy, who paid the driver and saved my evening.

Thanks friends! Yay Automattic meetups!

P.S. The driver explained his credit card machine wouldn’t work because the batteries died. Ridiculous. :)