Category Archives: Culture

Paris November 2023 Trip Report

During Thanksgiving week, we went to Paris. This is a review of how things went traveling as a family with young kids in a city without strollers.

Flight: French Bee

I wasn’t sure what to expect flying this budget airline. They changed our flight months before from [Saturday to Saturday] to [Sunday to Sunday]. This was annoying but we dealt with it by updating hotel plans. The outbound flight was good. The airplane was a modern Airbus plane and we could watch movies from a limited selection. While we had meal service pre-purchased, they only offered water with our meal. Anything besides water cost extra. Not a deal breaker but kind of odd? The prepaid pasta entree was not good.

On the inbound flight, our plane had an issue. This was very concerning as it wasn’t clear if we were going to be able to fly home on Sunday. After a few hours delay, they switched us to another plane (from partner Air Caraïbes) and we were flying home. Despite this significant delay on the return flight, I would be open to flying French Bee again as long as the price is low enough.

Hotel: Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile

We stayed a week in the 17th arrondissement on points. No cash cost for a suite (actually a family room: 2 connected rooms) with a great view of the Eiffel Tower and lounge access. Our kids enjoyed the lounge and we took advantage of the lounge to eat breakfast. The location is not central, so doing stuff “in Paris” meant taking the subway for 20 minutes one way, doing stuff, and then coming back another 25 minutes.

I enjoyed our stay here. There are plenty of other hotels in more central or vibrant locations which would have been more conducive to a mid day rest. This Hyatt had convenient subway access and a great view of the city.


We flew into Orly airport and were lucky that our trip lined up with the Navigo weekly pass. It was hard to purchase the weekly pass since we had to find a manned booth at the “5th” bus stop area outside Terminal 4. Regular public transit machines did not sell the weekly pass. For 30 euros, you get a pass that works exactly from Monday to Sunday for metro, train, RER, express tram, tram and bus. This means you can take unlimited Paris subway, train to Versaille, city buses, etc. rides all for 1 low price.

When it made sense to, I did supplement with Taxi rides via the G7 Paris Taxi app. Not all taxis can hold 4 passengers so hailing a taxi is hit or miss. Also when taking a large passenger van official taxi (with the taxi light on top), I ran into upcharges for luggage and stuff even though the fare from the airport to Paris was supposed to be a lower flat fee. It’s unclear how much of these fees are valid or the taxi driver tacking on extra charges.

Weather: cold & challenging

So this isn’t unexpected, but it’s worth mentioning. The weather during Thanksgiving week is very cold. Even when my iPhone Weather app says today is “cloudy and not raining”, some days would still have drizzle or rain. This made sightseeing or walking around VERY difficult with young kids.


We had 5 full days to sight see. Jetlag was a real challenge during the trip and even after the trip.

  1. Tues – Eiffel Tower summit, Le Bon Marché department store, Tuileries Garden Christmas market. The Eiffel Tower was pretty awful with cloudy & rainy weather, but we had pre-purchased tickets. The Tuileries Christmas market was fun with lots of carnival games.
  2. Weds – Louvre, Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre. The Louvre was good as we saw the famous art and ate at Cafe Angelina inside. There was also a kids studio in the basement of the Louvre with crafts. For dinner, we ate at Bouillon Pigalle which was pretty awful, my fault for picking a lower end place.
  3. Thur – Versailles palace, Bateaux-Mouches Seine river boat cruise. In Versailles, the weather was pretty bad with drizzle. Since we have young kids, there was no way to walk around the whole estate, so we rented a golf cart which was fun. The boat cruise was definitely worth it to see the city of lights at night.
  4. Fri – Shopping (La Samaritaine, BHV Marais), walking around (Île de la Cité). We made a pit stop at Boulangerie BO&MIE which had excellent pastries. For dinner, we ate at Grand Brasserie. Our kids were really tired. The beef quality in France seems worse than the US. Obviously the wine, cheese, bread, etc. are all top notch in Paris.
  5. Sat – More shopping (Printemps Haussmann, Galeries Lafayette Haussmann), Saint Germain Christmas Market. The rooftop of the Printemps was not anywhere as amazing as the Galeries Lafayette. Since this was a Saturday and “Black Friday” shopping, the crowds at Galeries Lafayette Haussmann was just too crowded. I wanted to look around more for kids stuff, but there were way too many people. Also the Saint Germain Christmas Market was a few stalls alongside the road – not worth checking out.


Despite the weather and time difference, we enjoyed the trip. The kids already want to go back to Paris. While we can’t go back right away (the trip just happened), it will be fun to come back eventually and spend time doing other things (walking around, eating, shopping, and not visiting the Louvre or Eiffel tower). It was good to take an international trip, expose our kids to a different culture/language, and challenge ourselves visiting a major European city (instead of a more typical Hawaii vacation at the beach/resort).

Disney California Adventure (CA) Trip Report – June 2023

Our family went to Disney CA on a weekday in early June. I read online there would be lots of graduating high school students, but I didn’t anecdotally feel like the park was filled with students.

We opted for 1 day of intensity instead of going to Disneyland over multiple days. Since we haven’t been to Disney CA in a while, I opted for the paid fast pass (Genie+ Lightning Lane). The Lightning Lane proved helpful since you can skip some long lines.

The Disneyland Genie+ Lightning Lane (G+LL) system is confusing. As of June 2023, there was 1 paid ride that was not part of the G+LL pass: Radiator Springs Racers (RSR). RSR has its own paid Individual Lightning Lane, which we did not buy. With the G+LL, you can book another Lightning Lane (LL) every 2 hours or after you scan in your LL pass at the ride entrance.

8am – Rope Drop

We went for the rope drop. However we hit some bad traffic on the highway driving down. So after parking in the Toy Story parking lot, we got to the rope drop area at 7:45a. We were stuck in the back of the rope drop crowd. Everyone was heading towards Radiator Springs Racers.

8:10a – Radiator Springs Racers

90 minute posted wait. Actual wait was ~80 minutes. We rope dropped this ride since I didn’t want to pay for the Individual Lightning Lane. I enjoyed the Cars Land area decorations, but I didn’t think RSR was a great ride. For whatever reason, the car we sat in didn’t even race another car. There was simply no car next to us, so we went through the ride just cruising around the track by ourselves. I honestly don’t see what all the hype is about.

9:40a – Web Slingers

45 minute posted, 45 minute actual wait. I think this was a decent ride. The ride broke down on us a couple times while on the ride. Overall, it was fun with young kids to shoot webs and go for high value targets.

10:40a – Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout (LL)

80 minute posted. 30 minute actual wait with LL reservations. The Lightning Lane queue wasn’t moving when we checked in. So even with a LL, it can take a while to get on the ride. This ride was one of the best rides of the day. I wanted to go on it again, but the line throughout the day was just long. And you can’t use LL twice on 1 ride in a day.

11:40a – Lunch

We went to Pacific Wharf Café and had clam chowder bowls. I had low expectations, but the bread (and the soup) was pretty good.

For the next LL ride, I wanted to give us enough space to walk around, eat lunch, and take a breather from rushing to 3 heavy hitting rides in the morning. I didn’t want to have to cut lunch short in order to make a LL reservation.

12:50p – Mike & Sulley to the Rescue! (LL)

35 minute posted. 9 minute wait with LL. So I booked this LL when the ride was showing up as down. It didn’t work as the ride came back up eventually. If the ride didn’t come back up in time for our LL, then we would have a pass to use at another similar tier ride. I think this ride was OK. It’s a ride for kids who really love Monster’s Inc.

1:20p – Animation Academy

This was a 2 for 1. There’s a bunch of attractions in the Animation Academy. Each has different waits. We took the Learn the Secrets of Drawing class and it was fun to draw Dumbo. However, we also waited for the Frozen meet and greet (Royal Welcome) and that wasn’t a great use of our time. No issues with the character we met, but the line was just way too long and not worth meeting a character for 30 seconds.

2:35p – Redwood Creek Challenge Trail

This was our resting period for the day. The kids ran around the play area and we were able to sit for a little bit.

3:20p – Grizzly River Run (Single Rider)

70 minute posted wait, actual wait 9 minutes. While other members were at the challenge trail, I rode the Grizzly River Run as a single rider. The ride was fun and the tube spun around a lot. While I was in the Single Rider line, I saw a party of 2 (parent and child?) try to use the Single Rider line to go on the ride together. The Disney CM called them out for it, but ultimately the 2 were able to go on the ride together.

4:10p – Incredicoaster (Single Rider – did not ride)

55 minute posted wait. Did not actually ride it at 4pm. So the Single Rider line for Incredicoaster was pretty long and not moving with any regularity. I think the 2+2 seating doesn’t lend itself well to single riding. I waited for 20 minutes and left since the line wasn’t moving.

4:30p – Jessie’s Critter Carousel

10 minute posted wait. 5 minute actual wait. This ride is pretty self explanatory. It’s a carousel for young kids. The short wait helps.

4:45p – Toy Story Midway Mania (LL)

40 minute posted wait. 15 actual wait with LL. This was a fun ride. Shooting targets for a high score was fun for the family.

5:15p – Emotional Whirlwind Inside Out

30 minute posted wait. 20 minute actual wait. This ride was OK. We recently watched Inside Out so I figured this would be a fun ride to go on. Note: Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff nearby has some sweet (pun intended) treats!

5:45p – Pixar Pal-A-Round (Swinging)

30 minute posted wait on the physical entrance sign. The app said 60 minute wait. Actual wait was 25 minutes. This was a fun ride. I wasn’t sure if we were able to fit it in our schedule. The Swinging version is no joke. The Swinging was more than I expected, but it was fun. Also seeing various Pixar characters on the Ferris wheel pods was fun.

7p – Soarin’ Around the World (LL)

55 minute posted wait. 15 minute actual wait with LL. We enjoyed this ride. I’m not sure when the ride soars around the world VS California. We went on a world tour and it was really fun.

7:30p – Cozy Cone Motel

Dinner was fine. I wanted something fast casual. Using the Disney app to order in advance definitely saved a lot of time (vs waiting in line to order food). Also as already mentioned, I really like the Cars Land theming/decor.

8p – Goofy’s Sky School (LL)

50 minute posted wait. 10 minute actual wait. The LL really helped here. I don’t think this ride was a must ride, but it’s included in the LL so why not ride it? At this point, we had used the LL on almost all the LL eligible rides. This was a bumpy/rough and fun kids roller coaster.

8:15p – The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure

10 minute posted wait. 5 minute actual wait. This ride wasn’t running earlier in the day. But it was up and running throughout the day. During the afternoon, the posted wait was long so I didn’t go on it. At night, there was practically no line. This was a fun ride for our kids since we also recently saw the classic animated The Little Mermaid movie.

8:30p/9p – World of Color ONE (WoC)

My family got in line at the designated seating area for WoC around 8:30p. I left for the Incredicoaster and came back by 9pm to watch the show. I would say the show is OK. Some people really enjoyed it, but I wasn’t personally invested in light projection on water meant to invoke classic Disney/Marvel/etc memories.

8:40p – Incredicoaster (LL)

45 minute posted wait. No wait while using LL. As I walked to the Incredicoaster ride, I could see the Single Rider line still really long. With the LL reservation, I walked all the way onto the ride. This ride was amazing. Definitely one of my top rides in California Adventure.

9:30p to Close

We walked around the shops to get some last minute souvenirs. Honestly, I prefer the Main Street shops in Disneyland more. I think CA park is great if you want very specific stuff (Avengers, Spider-Man, Pixar, etc gear), but otherwise I felt the selection in Disneyland main street was much greater.


At rides, the posted wait time changes constantly and really doesn’t tell you exactly how long the wait is.

Walking around Disney CA is a challenge. I usually had to take the long way and walk through a ton of the park to get where I wanted to go. The layout of Disney CA doesn’t lend itself well to doing stuff nearby when I’m trying to also use Lightning Lane for rides that are often on the other side of the park.

On our weekday, there were some rides down in the morning and throughout the day. I think most or all of them were back and running later in the day. I think Zephyr kept going down but was up every now and then. The good news is that just because I saw a ride being unavailable at rope drop, it didn’t mean the ride was down for the whole day.

I think 1 day is enough to see Disney California Adventure with the G+LL constantly used. Compared to Disneyland, I think Disneyland is the top tier park and Disney California Adventure is the second choice. So depending on how many days you want to spend at Disney: if you only have 1 day, go to Disneyland. If you have 2 or more days, you can do 1 day Disneyland, 1 day California Adventure, etc. I personally don’t buy the park hopper, but park hopper seems like a popular add-on.

P.S. – I can’t help but feel like posting content to the internet is just feeding LLMs (ChatGPT, etc.).

Legoland 2022 1-Day Trip Review

We went for a day in March during spring break. With young kids, we had some height restrictions, but most rides were available since Legoland is for young kids. The park was busier than I expected, but overall it was much better (less crowded) than summer time.

Legoland sells VIP access to skip lines, but I wasn’t interested. Plus, we’ve already been to Legoland a handful of times so I didn’t see the need to pay extra.

I downloaded the official Legoland app, which was extremely helpful in looking at estimated ride wait times. Too bad their app doesn’t let you order food like Disneyland’s app does.

While picking rides in the park, I focused on rides with shorter wait times & rides that were nearby. If there was a ride nearby with a short line, I definitely took my kids to check it out.

Attractions List with comments

Junior Driving School / Driving School

  • This is fun for kids to drive around

Sky Patrol

  • basic helicopter ride. what you see is what you get. fun

Fun Town Police and Fire Academy

  • this was a competitive ride (competing against other groups). pumping (to move the truck) was harder than expected

Skipper School

  • this boat ride was fun, but the line was really long. the wait wasn’t worth it

Legoland Express

  • simple train ride for toddlers. it’s fun, and no wait is awesome

DUPLO Playtown

  • this was ok. kids can play in the playground. the Duplos were scarce (COVID safety precaution?)

Queen Watevra’s Carousel

  • it’s a basic carousel ride. you either like it or you don’t

LEGO Movie 2 Experience

  • this simple walkthrough is cool for Lego set piece nerds, but it might not be interesting for everyone

Coast Cruise

  • simple, boat tour. I feel bad for the tour guides since they have to repeat the same pun jokes over and over

The Royal Joust

  • this thing always has a long line? it works well for the kids to wait in line while I get food nearby…

Knights’ Smokehouse BBQ

  • the lunch options are decent. typical, pricey theme park food, but the BBQ itself is not bad. if you get here during lunch hours, be prepared to wait in a long line

Cargo Ace

  • simple, kid friendly plane ride

Bionicle Blaster

  • these saucers spin around fast. shorter/younger children can’t ride it

Ninjago the Ride

  • our family isn’t super into Ninjago. the ride was OK, but I think my sensor hand placement was off since it wasn’t working well

Eglor’s Build-a-Boat

  • it’s legoland, so there’s different lego stations for kids. this one was a decent distraction. the Legos didn’t seem to be that clean considering the amount of water they are exposed to

Fairy Tale Brook

  • this ride is awesome. the decor is standard fare. I always enjoy this simple boat ride with almost no wait

LEGO Factory Tour

  • we walked through some Lego factory machines and the kids were able to build with Legos. this was more of a time sink

LEGO City Deep Sea Adventure

  • this sub ride was ok. there was no line, and I’m not a huge fan of the treasure hunt activity (spot things in the water)

The Hideaways

  • this play ground at the top of the theme park was fun for the kids to run around. I have to assume due to COVID, all the tube slides were closed (sealed at top & bottom). No slides makes getting around the vertical playground a bit odd

The Big Shop

  • always packed at the end of the day. The shop is OK. I think most stuff you can find online at a similar or better price. I didn’t find any notable exclusive Legos this day. If you show them your VIP, you get a small discount

Legoland is fun for young kids, but it’s easy to run out of things to do after your 1st day. Costco has a 2 day ticket promo (with 2nd visit in 14 days of 1st visit), but that’s more Legoland than we need.

Disneyland 2021 1-Day Trip Review

We went for 1 day in August with young kids, meaning we couldn’t go on all the rides (height restriction). When we went, there was no park-wide fast pass system, so I didn’t have to worry about optimizing the next fast pass.

Before going, I downloaded the official Disneyland app (with my account & tickets set up). This is important since it lets you join boarding groups (Rise of the Resistance) at 7 am (outside the park) or 12 noon (in the park). If you are trying to join a boarding group, make sure you try exactly when it turns 7a (or 12). The official app also makes ordering food easy.

Some helpful tips: 1.) Go early. Try to get there when the park opens (like 8am) or even before they open (line up for rope drop). This will let you go a number of rides early in the day when lines are shorter. 2.) With tip #1, go on rides with longer lines first. Here’s a site showing sample wait times.

Ride List with comments

  • Jungle Cruise
    • alright. The guide was good, but the scripted dad jokes were soso
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • decent. This is classic Disneyland
  • Haunted Mansion
    • decent. This is classic Disneyland
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
    • fun for young kids
  • Mad Tea Party
    • decent. your typical spinning kid ride
  • King Arthur Carousel
    • decent. your typical carousel ride
  • Star Wars: Rise Of The Resistance
    • decent. It wasn’t the best thing ever. I enjoyed the impressive set pieces. This ride broke down twice on us (used Rider Switch) and ate up much of our afternoon.
  • It’s a Small World
    • good. This is classic Disneyland
  • Autopia
    • good, but they need to make the cars electric. The gas fumes are awful
  • Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
    • good, but it’s hard to tell where you are aiming
  • Mickey’s Mix Magic (9pm)
    • decent. Instead of a parade, they projected a show onto the castle and lit up a ton of fireworks

Food List with comments

  • Mickey-shaped Beignets @ [Mint Julep Bar, New Orleans Square]
    • mediocre. we were hungry in the morning, but these did not knock my socks off
  • New Orleans Mint Julep @ [Mint Julep Bar, New Orleans Square]
    • tasty, non-alcoholic drink
  • hand-dipped corn dogs @ [Stage Door Café, Frontierland]
    • tasty, but I was feeling fried food overdose
  • chicken tenders kids meal @ [Stage Door Café, Frontierland]
    • alright. your typical generic theme park kids meal. including a mandarin orange was good
  • Dole Whip Soft Serve @ [Tiki Juice Bar, Adventureland]
    • good, but I prefer the float! Don’t @ me
  • Dole Whip Float @ [Tiki Juice Bar, Adventureland]
    • amazing. Dole whip floats are always great, even more so on a hot day
  • frozen cherry lemonade @ [Fantasyland cart]
    • not good. the cherry flavoring didn’t remind me of cherry
  • blue milk @ [Milk Stand, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge]
    • good. this may have been an acquired taste. The tropical flavor was delicious
  • green milk @ [Milk Stand, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge]
    • average. I tried the citrus flavor, but it didn’t remind me of citrus and didn’t hit the spot

Disneyland was a fun-filled day for our family. Since we don’t go often, I try to do as much as possible. This is tough with kids, but we had strollers and took a break in the middle of the day to let the kids rest.

Having secured the Rise of the Resistance boarding group at noon, I think we accomplished more than enough. If we had more time in the afternoon, there were plenty of rides in Fantasyland to try or Mickey’s Toontown to visit.

Yosemite Day Use Ticketed Entry

Due to COVID-19, Yosemite National Park restricted entry by requiring a Day Use Entry reservation online. This 7 day pass required you to check-in on the 1st day. Since the day use reservation is no longer applicable (as of Nov 1st), I’m posting my experiences with the system.

I started looking into day use passes in mid October since I wanted to visit around 10/25. A large block of day passes were made available weeks ago, but it was too late for me. The remaining day passes are made available daily, 2 days in advance at 7AM. So checking at 10/23 7AM would let you get a 10/25 ticket.

As part of understanding the reservation system more, I tried to snag tickets for Saturday, 10/24, on 10/22 at 7AM. I was unable to get tickets since they sold out right away. I was stuck on a loading screen for a couple minutes, and sure enough, when I refreshed, the tickets were all gone. So I would have to wake up at 7AM the next day and try again (for a 10/25 pass).

When you make a reservation, you are able to cancel it on the site. I don’t fully understand the cancellation terms, but it did mean that refreshing the ticket site between 11PM and midnight (PT) seemed to have higher chances of getting a ticket due to some people cancelling their reservation at the end of the day.

Otherwise, randomly refreshing the ticket site throughout the day was an option if you are extremely desperate and have lots of free time.

The good news is that if you are able to see an available ticket on the site (and click fast!), checking out on the site was handled well. You had a 15 minute timer to purchase your ticket. The site would not prevent you from buying a ticket on different days, but you cannot have more than 1 ticket per day. Since each ticket is good for 7 days of entry, most people don’t need more than 1 ticket. Also, the ticket is tied to your name, so there is no resell or transfer.

Once you have a ticket, you must arrive on the 1st day to activate your ticket. At the entrance booth, the park person checks your day pass, your ID, and enters in the system that you showed up. You will be issued a piece of paper to stick on your window that has your license plate digits & park entry expiration date written on it. A park entry fee is also required, which is separate from the Day Use Entry this post is about.

I was worried about showing up after the entry day. The good news is on Reddit, someone claimed:

The official word is you have to be there on entry day. As far as I can tell that policy isn’t being enforced at all. I’ve entered a bunch of times on a day or two after the first day and was still let in, no questions asked.

If you want to be certain you are entered into the system on your 1st day, you need to show up during regular hours (not late afternoon or evening). When I was leaving, I saw someone arrive at the park at 5:40pm and the entry booth was unmanned. They had to get a piece of paper to self certify their arrival & entry pass # to stick on their car.

So while it took time to understand the Day Use Entry system, the system worked well. Yosemite is a beautiful national park well worth the trip.


The following involves research which may or may not be true.

The first study1 suggests we learn faster when we freely choose what to learn (as opposed to being forced). With agency, we are in control and change how we learn from our experiences.

However, this can also backfire as we can become delusional and think that we have control when we don’t. For example, following a sports superstition that does not change the game’s outcome.

The second research2 suggests that we like things because we chose them. This is backwards, since common sense dictates we choose things because we like them. This is really interesting since it suggests we rationalize our choice after the fact or ipso facto (by the fact itself).

These two phenomenons pair together and raise all kind of questions. Imagine a kid who freely chooses basketball and gets much better (than their peers who may not have chosen it). Does the kid like the sport since they are good at it or because they chose to play it in the first place? Of course, someone can have multiple reasons for why they like something, and it’s impossible to generalize since there are so many individual environmental factors to consider.

As a parent, I wonder how this can be utilized, and I don’t mean in some nefarious way. I take it to mean encouraging kids to pursue playing, reading, or learning whatever they want to. That way they will enjoy how they spend their time since they chose it.

Choice is a powerful thing, but it can also be paralyzing. With too many choices, you can waste a lot of time trying to find the best decision. The paradox of choice. Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed sometimes with prioritizing how I should be spending my free time. I don’t have an answer for this besides “do your best”, and the research suggests you will like it since you chose it. How amazing is that?

  1. Chambon, V., Théro, H., Vidal, M. et al. Information about action outcomes differentially affects learning from self-determined versus imposed choices. Nat Hum Behav 4, 1067–1079 (2020).
  2. Silver, A. M., Stahl, A. E., Loiotile, R., Smith-Flores, A. S., & Feigenson, L. (2020). When Not Choosing Leads to Not Liking: Choice-Induced Preference in Infancy. Psychological Science.

Manage Sandbox Account on iPhone (iOS 14)

While working with iOS 14 and IAPs, I was looking for the Sandbox Account management section in iOS Settings. Older guides online reference “iTunes & App Stores”, but it is somewhere else now.

From what I’ve read online, it seems like the 1st step is to attempt an IAP on your iPhone running your development build (with Xcode). You’ll be prompted to sign in, so use your App Store Connect Sandbox Tester credentials.

Afterwards, I was able to find Sandbox at the following location:
* open Settings app
* scroll down & select ‘App Store’
* scroll down & find ‘SANDBOX ACCOUNT’

Here, you can manage or sign out of your Sandbox Apple ID.

Downgrading from iOS 14 beta to iOS 13

I’ve spent several hours on this (restoring from an old computer), so here’s how I was able to restore iOS 13 (the current, non-beta iOS release). First things first, I backed up my iPhone to my computer before installing iOS 14 beta 6.

First attempt (did not work)

My iPhone backup was under iOS 13.6. Version 13.6.1 had been released, but I did not update my phone to it. I installed iOS 14 beta 6 using Apple’s profile.

Once I decided to downgrade to iOS 13, I removed the beta profile on my phone in Settings. I tried to follow Apple’s guide for removing the developer beta. The instructions for putting your device in recovery mode was confusing. I found that I had to hold the Side button for a long time.

After plugging in my phone, I think I clicked “Restore Backup”. iTunes told me that it had to download 13.6.1 first. I clicked through the notice and assumed that iTunes was going to restore my 13.6 backup and update my phone to 13.6.1. Sure, ok, iTunes do the thing.

3 hours later, my phone was restored, but it was still on the latest iOS 14 beta.

Second attempt (success)

iOS 13.7 had just come out. So I downloaded the 13.7 .ipsw file at Also, I logged out of Find My (iPhone).

After connecting my phone to my computer, I opened iTunes and shift-clicked (PC) on “Restore iPhone…”. Warning: this wipes your iPhone. I found my downloaded .ipsw file for iOS 13.7 and let iTunes format my phone.

With my phone on 13.7, I went back to iTunes to “Restore Backup” using my 13.6 backup. 3 hours later, my phone is back on iOS 13!

zsh PS1 setup

macOS Catalina uses zsh as the new default shell (instead of bash) in Terminal. This means that many people will be looking to re-setup their CLI with ~/.zshrc instead of ~/.bash_profile.

While customizing my .zshrc was a hassle, it was also an opportunity to clean up my profile and remove legacy settings.

Zsh offers an optional right side prompt, but I only used the left side prompt for now.

Here are some misc tips that I’ve found helpful:

  • For basic PS1 exports (time/date, current dir, user, etc), you can find examples here. Things like %D for the current date, %~ for the current directoy, and more.
  • In your PS1 export, you can start color formatting with %F{117} and end color formatting with %f. Replace 117 with whatever color your desire. You can find color codes here.
  • You can make your tab auto completion case insensitive (ignore case) by adding:
    zstyle ':completion:*' matcher-list 'm:{[:lower:]}={[:upper:]}'
    autoload -Uz compinit && compinit -i
  • You can show your current git branch with:
    autoload -Uz vcs_info
    precmd() { vcs_info }
    zstyle ':vcs_info:git:*' formats '(%b)'
    setopt prompt_subst

    Note: you also need to add $vcs_info_msg_0_ in your PS1 export line.

I’ve thought about creating a zshrc WYSIWYG tool, ala Halloween Bash, but I’ve shelved those plans since there’s only so much time in a day. With macOS Catalina inevitable for macOS users, more and more people are going to be looking for easy ~/.zshrc customization.

Kauai, Hawaii Trip Recap

Last month, I was blessed to be able to spend a few days in Kauai (Hawaii) with family. The island is green, tropical, and beautiful.

We stayed at the Grand Hyatt in the south side of the island. The resort was great and there’s plenty of things to do on the south side. Around Koloa/Poipu, where our hotel was, there were lots of great things to eat. We enjoyed shaved ice at Waikomo Shave Ice, where they use fresh fruit. Puka Dog was good, since they combine a hot dog with fruity relish & Hawaiian mustard. Puka Dog is famous since Anthony Bourdain ate there.

On the day with the best (relative) weather, we drove up to Waimea Canyon State Park. The view from the canyon lookout was great, but weather & visibility changes fast. As we were taking photos of the canyon, the area fogged up and we couldn’t see much. We drove to the nearby Kōkeʻe State Park, but we couldn’t see anything due to the fog & rain. As we drove down the mountain, the weather improved and we were able to get decent views from roadside lookouts.

Leaving Waimea Canyon, we stopped at the town of Waimea for lunch. There were plenty of shops, and we enjoyed the Shrimp Station. Heading back towards our hotel, we also stopped at the small town of Hanapepe. Hanapepe’s main street was small, and there was cool Lilo & Stitch art among the shops. Unfortunately, the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge was closed on our visit.

The next day, we went up to the north side of the island (by driving along the east side). We stopped by Opaeka’a Falls along the way, and it was worth it since the double waterfall is easily accessible near the parking lot. We checked out Kilauea Lighthouse, which is cool for bird enthusiasts. The lighthouse was windy and packed with visitors.

After the lighthouse, we headed to Hanalei. The Hanalei Valley Lookout was definitely worth stopping along the highway for a nice view. Hanalei was a cool town with lots of restaurants and shops. Unfortunately it rained a lot while we were there. We ate at Hanalei Bread Company and Wishing Well Shave Ice. Hanalei Bread Company was really popular, but they seem to run out of things. Wishing Well Shave Ice was really good, but we had to dodge the rain. I wish we stayed longer in Hanalei to browse the shops, but the weather was too much. We left to check out nearby Princeville, but Princeville seemed very hostile to visitors as there’s no public parking?

Besides driving around the island, we were able to enjoy our hotel pool & beach. We weren’t able to spend much time exploring the east side, but we did enjoy a plate lunch from Mark’s Place (get the Korean Chicken!). Having stayed on the south side, I would definitely recommend the south side. Kauai was fun, and there were wild chickens everywhere.