The new and improved Windows PCs are finally here

The new and improved Windows PCs are finally here

Hi, friends! Welcome to Installer No. 43, your guide to the best and Verge-iest stuff in the world. (If you’re new here, welcome, so psyched you found us, and also you can read all the old editions at the Installer homepage.)

This week, I’ve been reading about memexes and telepathy and John Lennon’s wristwatch, watching Presumed Innocent and Ren Faire, testing Genspark for AI search stuff, redoing my homescreen with Dumbify, and experimenting with overnight oats in an attempt to make mornings less chaotic. (Turns out, peanut butter makes pretty much everything 20 percent better.) 

I also have for you a new tech podcast, a couple of handy new gadgets, a new calendar app, the game that will take over your weekend, and much more. Let’s get into it.

(As always, the best part of Installer is your ideas and tips. What are you into right now? What great apps / books / podcasts / shows / games / recipes / whatever else have you discovered and loved recently? Tell me everything: installer@theverge.com. And if you know someone else who might enjoy Installer, tell them to subscribe here.)

The Drop

  • The Asus VivoBook S 15. Copilot Plus PCs cometh. It’s been a weird rollout, what with all the Recall complications, but we’re starting to get a sense of just what this new era of Qualcomm-powered Windows devices can do. So far, I’m pretty optimistic, but I’m still waiting to see how the new Surfaces pan out.
  • Elden Ring Shadow of the Erdtree. The overall vibe of this huge new DLC is basically “it’s Elden Ring, only somehow even more so.” Given how deep and big this game already was, and how many hours we’ve all spent in it already, that’s pretty much all you can ask for. 
  • Pissing out Cancer. If all the Dropout Presents stand-up specials are as much fun as this one from Hank Green, we’re about to have a heck of a run of new comedy. Green here is funny and goofy as ever and extremely Hank Green-y. It’s an hour you won’t regret.
  • The Xreal Beam Pro. Such a fun and different idea about how smart glasses should work: instead of trying to bake everything into the glasses themselves, Xreal is pulling all the smarts and software into a separate fairly cheap smartphone-style device. I’m excited to test this one out.
  • Backfired: The Vaping Wars. The Juul story might forever be one of the strangest things to ever happen in Silicon Valley. This podcast goes deep on that story, along with the confusing societal debate about vaping, the government’s scramble to keep up, and where things go from here.
  • Arc for iPad. Still my favorite browser, finally available on almost all my devices. (Android when, Arc people!?!) The app isn’t exactly iPad-optimized — it’s missing some keyboard shortcuts and is really just a blown-up version of the iPhone app — but it syncs and works well and I will absolutely take it.
  • Amie for Windows. Big week for cross-platform apps! Amie is one of my favorite calendar / to-do apps and has gotten a lot more polished over the last few months. If you’re the all-in-one productivity type and appreciate some delightful design, give this one a whirl.
  • The Logitech Keys-to-Go 2. I’ve had the original Keys-To-Go in my bag for a few years as a super light and handy way to get some stuff done with my phone or iPad. This looks like a huge upgrade: still light, still small, but with a more proper set of keys. $80 is a lot, but I suspect I’ll end up buying one.
  • A Sense of Rebellion. An amazingly well-produced and deeply reported podcast on some decades-old ideas about AI and how we might use and live with technology. The story here, about hippies and capitalists and the government and big business, is kind of the story of technology all wrapped up in 10 episodes. Loving this so far.
  • Clipbud. Clipboard history is helpful and good, but having a place with all the text you type a lot – your shipping address, stock email responses, important links, all of that — is a life-changer. The built-in text replacement and personal dictionary features (on iOS and Android, respectively) do a lot of that, and apps like Snippety are mega-powerful, but this new one is pretty delightful to use.

Screen share

I think Nick Quah has introduced me to more great podcasts than any other person on earth. Whether in the early days of Hot Pod or in his 1.5x Speed newsletter over at Vulture (The Verge’s sister site here at Vox Media), he seems to have listened to all the shows all the time. Just this week, actually, he wrote a fun story about how chat podcasts have taken over and named some of the biggest names in New Radio.

I asked Nick to share his homescreen because a) I was curious what podcast app he used and b) I was hoping he might recommend a new show or two. I got my wish on both counts! Here’s Nick’s homescreen, plus some info on the apps he uses and why:

The phone: Recently upgraded from my trusty ol’ iPhone 12 to an iPhone 15. Seems to be doing fine so far; I’m no longer stressed about losing juice on long flights.  

The wallpaper: My sweet, sweet baby boy Siobhan (aka Shooby).

The apps: Calendar, Photos, Clock, Weather, Google Maps, To Do, Google Calendar, Gmail, Spotify, TikTok, Instagram, Steam, Delta, Strava, Discord, Slack, Stocks, LastPass, Messages, Phone, Firefox, Pocket Casts.

Yeah, well, as you can see, I’m pretty vanilla for the most part. All the immediately accessible apps are stuff I hit up with some frequency on any given day. Google Maps for navigation (and snooping). To Do to get my brain in order. TikTok and Instagram for something to do in the bathroom. I’ve been gaming a lot more these days, so I’m constantly trawling Steam for deals. Strava, ‘cuz I’ve somehow become a big runner. I’ve also been hitting up Delta quite a bit, working through a backlog of old JRPGs. And of course, Pocket Casts, which is my go-to for podcast listening.

I also asked Nick to share a few things he’s into right now. Here’s what he sent back:

  • I’m a big rewatcher / replayer of things, and for whatever reason, the summertime is usually when I pick up my annual revisits. Right now, I’m working my way through Halt and Catch Fire for the sixth time. Gosh, that show is so lovely. It’s the 10-year anniversary, you know?
  • Like the rest of the universe at this point in time, seemingly, I’m digging Chappell Roan. “Red Wine Supernova,” very good. 
  • Slowly making my way through Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love, David Talbot’s 2013 history of San Francisco. I’m finding it quite remarkable.
  • Catching up on episodes of My Perfect Console, Simon Parkin’s great “Desert Island Discs, but for Video Games” interview show that’s really doubling as a fun historical record for the medium.

Crowdsourced

Here’s what the Installer community is into this week. I want to know what you’re into right now as well! Email installer@theverge.com or message me on Signal — @davidpierce.11 — with your recommendations for anything and everything, and we’ll feature some of our favorites here every week. For even more recommendations than fit here, check out the replies to this post on Threads.

This little camera. I’ve been going over ways in my mind to justify it because it’s so cute but also the photos are surprisingly decent.” – Daulton

“Check out Ditto. It is a Nostr server that exposes Mastodon API to its clients. So the promise is that you would be able to use your very nice Mastodon app (Ivory, Ice Cubes) and add Nostr connection right into it. It would be like an additional server in the same app where your main Mastodon account is.” – Adnan

“I’ve been slowly getting back into following Pokemón trading cards and have been hooked watching TheBulbaStore on YouTube. It’s super interesting seeing a vendor’s point of view and the prices some cards go for now!” – Peter

The Hawthorne & Horowitz mysteries by Anthony Horowitz. He recently released the fifth in the series, Close to Death. They all have tortured puns as titles (in this case, “close” being a British word for enclosed area). On top of that, the books are metafiction in which Horowitz himself is the main character, talking about how he is writing the series of murder mysteries that you are reading. Yet, they are some of the best contemporary murder mysteries I’ve read and do a wonderful job paying homage to Agatha Christie, all while playing with the genre.” – Kendrick

“I’m playing and watching chess! Chess is cool now! Lots of great ways to play, but Chess.com is probably the best for beginners. And there’s great YouTube content out there on chess from Eric Rosen, Irina Krush, Levy Rozman, and Hikaru Nakamura. Getting good so I can teach my three-year-old niece to be a master someday.” – Ryan

“I am really enjoying “Jet Lag: The Game” on YouTube. Imagine The Amazing Race, but actually good and not scripted. The hosts are likable and the game has some decent complexity behind it. They are about to wrap up their Australia season, and it has been a nail-biter.” – Dev

“I’m currently reading Hell Divers II: Ghosts by Nicholas Sansbury Smith. Postapocalyptic sci-fi about halo jumpers who dive into radioactive wastelands to scavenge supplies from mutant monsters, and yes, it is as good as it sounds.” – Jesse

“I’ve been obsessed with my new Klydoclock, a digital take on the classic analog clock. It features changing, artist-curated faces and can even tick and chime on the hour if you want it to. Best of all: it has no other functions and isn’t attached to an app or your phone. Minimalism and elegance at its finest.” – Jonathan

“I really believe that a home server or NAS is useful and easily accessible for more people than currently have one. More people should have their own Plex server, Pi-hole, self-hosted cloud storage, Minecraft server, or self-hosted VPN. An old PC is all you need if you want to keep it simple. And if you don’t mind learning how to work with Linux, you could even use an old Android phone or cheap Raspberry Pi clone.” – Voltaire

Signing off

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I absolutely cannot get enough of watching / listening to / reading about how people who are great at their thing do their thing. (The musician Kygo has a series of making-of videos that is always the first example I think of in this genre.) One of my favorite recent ones is this video, with Zane Lowe interviewing Finneas and Billie Eilish about the making of Eilish’s latest album. They talk about process, fear, microphones, editing, and so much more. I will almost certainly never make an album, or shoot a movie, or make it in the NBA, but listening to people talk about how they do it never gets old. 

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