iPad: Once again, I’ll be honest and say that if it has the Steve Jobs stamp of approval on it, chances are damn good that I’ll own it. This device, however, was even a bit of a stretch for me in terms of justifying a purchase. My initial reaction to it, like so many others, was one of “I have this already. It’s my iPhone”. However, over the months since it’s April 2010 launch, I’ve found it vying for the spot as the single most used piece of tech in my household, second only to the television. For being something that I don’t “really” need, the iPad has managed to ingrain itself into the very fabric of my daily routine. It’s first thing I take out when I get to work, it’s the first thing my daughter asks for when I get home and it’s very often the last thing I see while reading a book in bed or watching a late-night television show with my wife. Say what you will about it, the iPad has managed to exceed my expectations by doing the impossible: carving out a niche in my already over-filled tech life.

Twitter: I was a fan of Twitter in 2009 (and put it on my best-of list then too, I believe) but this simple program has continued to show it’s usefulness in 2010. Part of what makes it so fantastic is it’s simple core structure; 140 character messages, nothing more. With this simple premise, however, Twitter has become my major news source, a vehicle for communicating with podcast listeners and keeping tabs on people I find interesting or inspirational. Hell, it’s even becoming a great vehicle for promoting your movie in the hands of Kevin Smith. Twitter shows that a simple, cleanly executed idea can become so much more when in hands of a creative and active user base. Let’s also mention that the fantastic mobile twitter app, Tweetie, was acquired by Twitter and their subsequent iPad and Mac offerings have become my favorite way to access the service.

Dropbox: This may go down as the most important program I installed on my devices this year. Simply put, Dropbox is a spot on the cloud where I can put my shit, to be accessed by all my devices that need said shit. While other programs and services do something similar, it’s the way in which Dropbox does it that sets it apart. It’s clean and simple with an interface that requires little thought. It’s automated, so it never feels like an FTP program and it’s fast so that uploading things isn’t a pain in the ass waiting game. The simplicity and ease of use make it a program that entered my workflow right away and stayed as an integral part of accessing things from anywhere. It’s a service I simply can’t live without now and it’s saved my ass a number of times. It’s my favorite new discovery of 2010.

The Social Network: I’m not sure, exactly, why I found this movie so inspirational. By all accounts, Mark Zuckerberg is I guy I just couldn’t stand to be around for more than 5 minutes. However, the story of how a college kid and his buddies managed to create a computer program that would embed itself into the very culture of America is a fascinating one for me. There is something about the story of an idealistic young man that takes a risk and becomes a success with that vision that really appeals to me. Sadly, it’s probably just me wishing I had the balls to do something similar but David Fincher’s film really spoke to me. It was also shot in such a warm and beautiful way, using the old Harvard campus to great effect, that it really sucked me into the world. Add the fantastic performances by the principle actors and the eerily quiet score by Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross and it was film that set the bar for me in 2010.

Cooking/Mexican Cuisine/Rick Bayless: In November of 2009, I had a rather life changing moment when I ate at Topolobompo, a gourmet Mexican restaurant owned by chef Rick Bayless. After eating what still stands as one of the most interesting and delicious meals of my life, I walked over to a counter that held a series of cookbooks by the chef. Standing there was a member of the cooking staff on break, reading one of the cookbooks. He spotted me browsing, turned to me and pointed at the book “Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen” and simply said “That one’s the best”. I took his advice and proceeded down a year that was dedicated to not only cooking traditional Mexican food but one where food was finally put into perspective in my own life.

I had cooked off and on over the years but never in a purposeful way. 2010 became the year where I dedicated myself to the idea of good food, prepared simply and in my own kitchen for my family. I wanted to capture the feelings that had been awakened during my meal at Topolobompo and by February, I had hosted my very first dinner party featuring Mexican cuisine. 2010 was the year of cooking meals for my family almost every day and with each new dish, my confidence as a cook grew stronger and stronger. I began consulting my mother on recipes she used to regularly make for us as kids, adding them back into the fabric of my life and passing those flavors onto my own children. In addition to meals for my family, I had the joy of cooking Paella with Moe on an outdoor brick oven for 30 friends, and serving Red Mole to a couple who understood it’s significance and history. Be it meals for everyday or celebratory moments of my life, 2010 was the year where I began to dedicate life to food and it’s proper place in my world. It has been one of the most joyful and satisfying endeavors I have ever undertaken.

Arcade Fire-The Suburbs: This disc captivated me during the summer of 2010 in a way that no other album did. It spun in my car, streamed off my iPod, iPad and Mac at every given opportunity. These songs had hooks and chord progressions that kept me engaged and they even managed to make the whole “concept album” idea palatable. Add to that the fact that they represent an Indie band that managed to reach the pinnacle of the venerated Top 10 list and you have something special. Now, if only everything hadn’t been ruined by their Saturday Night Live appearance which revealed just how goonie that lead singer guy is. Seriously, it’s like Lurch meets Kraftwerk.

I realize there are no videogames on this particular list and it’s not because I didn’t play them. I just feel like I’ve said all that on the podcast, so you can check that out if you’re curious as to my top 2010 games. With that, I’ll close by simply saying a big thank you to all the folks who have listened to us this year, helped celebrate our 5th year of podcasting and continued to make the show a fun thing by writing in and leaving us fantastic voice mails. 2011 represents the third year of Robot Panic’s existence and as such (if we stay true to form) it’s about time for us to start blowing shit up. I just want to thank you for being the kind of people who are mostly cool with that kind of thing and it’s nice to know we have such fun people along for the ride.


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