Shana Tova

On behalf of the staff of The MKX® we want to wish you a Happy New Year 5783.

May the new year find us all with less (in no particular order):

  • Pandemics
  • Dicators and dictator wannabes
  • Intolerance
  • War
  • Poor sleep

And more:

  • Neat gadgets
  • Health
  • Poppy seed cake
  • Fútbol
  • Family
  • Blog posts
Shana Tova u’metukah!

Bonus: Mexico does well in the World Cup.

iPhone 14 Pro impressions

As in every year, I upgraded my phone. Here are some of the things that stand out to me so far and may not be covered by all the reviews done by pros.


It’s brighter. This is in the specs and it was mentioned in the announcement. But I haven’t heard anyone talk much about it and few factor this in when making purchasing decisions

It makes a big difference. Specifically when I’m outdoors – either when recording video at one of my kids’ soccer games or reading news during their practice. This is a pretty good quality of life improvement.

The always-on display is neat and still something I’m getting used to.


The camera is the main excuse I tell myself for upgrading every year. The phone is the only camera I use nowadays and I want my photos to be as good as they can reasonably be. I’m quite happy with what I’ve seen so far.

Low light performance

Low-light performance is a lot better. When taking the same photo with an iPhone 14 Pro and an iPhone 12 Pro at a bar, the iPhone 14 Pro took it in about 0.5 seconds (dark mode) vs the ~3 seconds it took on the older iPhone. And the photo came out better.

48 Megapixels Raw

Every match I go to at Q2 Stadium, I take a photo with the field behind me. This is a textbook challenging photo: Lots of bright light behind the main subjects.

As an experiment, last game I set the camera to take 48 Megapixels ProRAW, then I played with the colors on Pixelmator Pro for all of 5 minutes – something I have little experience with.

Compared with a similar photo taken using regular settings on an iPhone 13 Pro, the difference is striking. I assume the difference would be less had I taken ProRAW photo with the iPhone 13 Pro and I get it that this is a one-off cherry-picked result. But still…

Taken with iPhone 13 Pro.
Taken as 48 Megapixel ProRAW on iPhone 14 Pro, then tweaked using Pixelmator Pro.
iPhone 13 Pro detail
iPhone 14 Pro (ProRAW) detail

Action Mode

The video camera setting that removes shaking… it’s wild. I used it while recording my kid’s soccer game and it looks like I’m on a tripod. Really cool.

I made the video smaller than the original recording, which already trades off some resolution in order to do the stabilization. But see how smooth it is…


It’s a bit faster and smoother overall. Enough that you can feel it but not enough that it makes a huge difference. You really notice if you go back to an older phone though.


Dynamic Island

It’s a nice feature and I’d rather have it than not. But it’s not earth-shattering. Maybe as it gains uses once third parties update their apps to take better advantage of it.

USS Lexington

On a recent long weekend, the Kirsches from Austin went on a quick trip. Our goal was to stay within short driving distance. We decided on Corpus Christi because beach.

I had never visited Corpus Christi and didn’t know what to expect – I don’t think a Selena Shrine is a good enough reason to plan the trip.

But the USS Lexington is. I am embarrassed to admit I didn’t even know it was there. It’s an old WWII-era aircraft carrier turned into a museum and it’s just as cool as you would imagine.

I need help identifying that little brown computer or dumb terminal.

Not only was it extremely interesting to learn about the history of the ship and see its insides and look at the planes… they even have an Escape Room. That’s right: an Escape Room inside a 70 year old aircraft carrier.
We couldn’t solve it though.

Trader Joe’s Shakshuka Starter discontinued

UPDATE 8/22/2022: Rumor has it that Spicy Chunky Tomato & Pepper Sauce is the same product just packaged differently. I will confirm ir ASAP.

Every time they were out at the store I would fear that the product was no more. That’s why I‘d keep the freezer in my garage I bought just for this stocked up.

RIP: Shakshuka Starter
Making Shakshuka and Turkish coffee for breakfast.

But now my worst fears are confirmed: Trader Joe’s excellent Shakshuka Starter has been discountinued. Please send them your feedback.

As it stands, I have no quick and easy way to get Shakshuka and my talented wife hasn’t made it in years.

One of my little helpers, filling up the shopping cart.

For posterity

My wife took it apart. She also built most of it. I managed to grab photographic proof that we built this and I post it here for my own sake.


After nearly two years of bullet dodging, being fairly cautious, and three mRNA vaccines, my luck ran out and I tested positive for COVID-19. I feel perfectly fine. My kids got it too. So far and as far as we know, that’s it.

Thankfully, the CDC recently updated its guidance down to five days of isolation.

Here’s a time lapse of my test, which I stupidly started recording out of focus:

James Webb Telescope

Me and (a replica of) the James Webb Telescope during SXSW 2013.

The telescope launched this morning and didn’t explode. Only took an eternity. Hope it unfurls successfully. I saw the replica en 2013, the photo deserves a repost.

USA vs Nigeria

Ever since I moved to Austin almost 20 years ago I’ve been missing and craving profesional soccer.

The long long wait is finally over. Today the Q2 stadium, Austin FC’s home was inaugurated with a friendly between the USWNT and Nigeria. Final score 2-0 to the locals.

Of course Ilán and I were there tonight, last weekend for the soft opening, and will be here this coming weekend to see our new team’s first ever home match.

Me, my 1994 USA jersey, and my 2014 USA child.
The line to USA vs Nigeria. Note to self: get there early.
Looks like a video game
Soft opening

Kilobytes of fun!