2015 Macbook Review

macbook

If you’ve read my blog for any period of time, it’s no secret I’m a fan of Apple. Despite my love for the majority of their products, I’m not without an ability to point out when they fail (Apple Music…eck). But once again I’m blown away by the technical achievement of their latest offering, the new Macbook.

For the past few years I’ve worked on a Macbook Pro, and loved every minute of it. The build quality and user experience was second to none, and I rarely if ever had any downtime or crashes. If you search online you will find thousands of articles, discussions and comments between PC and Mac users beating each other up on which technology is better. I find the whole argument tired and pointless. To each their own. Everyone has different needs, wants and opinions on how they want to use their technology, and there is no one size fits all. Are Apple products incredibly more expensive then their counterparts? Absolutely. But to me, the additional cost is worth the build quality, time saved not dealing with system crashes, and the incredible support of their products. The time and hassles saved are worth the upfront added expenses.

That being said, I’ve now moved to a Macbook and this thing is an absolute technical achievement. It blows my mind that they’ve been able to build a laptop this thin and portable that does what it does. It’s definitely a fairly big shift moving from a full size workhorse laptop to a more portable, travel friendly one, but I really love this machine overall.

What I Love

Form Factor – This thing is crazy thin, lightweight and portable. I haven’t seen anything even come close to this level of build quality at this size. It’s the perfect machine for traveling, and while I had to sacrifice some performance specs for the smaller size, I haven’t found myself struggling with any normal day to day usage.

Keyboard – Full size keyboard? Check. Crazy how they fit that on this. The backlit keys are awesome. Touches like these in such a small package to me quantify the price. This could not have been easy to pull off. The keys have a different feel as there is a shorter distance on the press. They did so by replacing the traditional scissor-based keyboard switches with a new butterfly mechanism, which saves 40 percent thickness per key. That means that you get less travel with each press, but Apple also points out that there’s greater stability across the key, meaning keys don’t ‘lean’ to whatever corner you’re exerting the most pressure on which each keystroke. It takes getting used to, but again, after time it makes sense.

Touchpad – At first the touchpad threw me off. It doesn’t work like previous iterations. There are no moving parts with this thing, yet it throws taptic feedback at you to fool you in feeling the “click”. The addition of the force touch provides more functionality that developers can take advantage of such as getting the definition of a word on the fly. Still playing around with it, but as I get used to it, it just makes sense.

Speaker – It’s crazy the sound that this little thing puts out. No need for an external speaker, the sound is more than enough for casual listening.

Display – If there’s one thing you can’t argue is Apple’s display tech is outstanding. The Retina display on this thing is about as good as it gets.

What I Don’t Love

Inputs – Probably the biggest complaints on the net is around the fact that this machine only has one USB-C input. Yes, it’s not ideal. But there’s no way they are able to build a machine with this profile any other way. Is it a pain? Sometimes. Does it suck that you have to buy a $79 adapter to connect an external monitor, charge and add a traditional USB input? Yep. Honestly, I wish they would have included that with the machine. For me the portability trumps having those inputs in the machine. Having the adapter solves the issue, but yes, it comes at an additional cost. This is definitely a machine meant for wireless connectivity.

Lack of HD camera – Not sure how an HD camera doesn’t happen. I have to believe it can certainly it in the thing, so this is a miss in my opinion. But by no means a deal breaker as I’ve never found myself doing a ton of photos or video calls on my machine.

Price – No surprise here. In most cases, Apple products are more expensive, plain and simple. The anti-Apple community allows rants on this issue, but I feel they never really factor in everything. Build quality/materials, support/service, reliability…all these things factor in to the cost, and while paying more up front isn’t ideal, I believe that the time saved and the quality of the product are worth the price.

This is a machine for the person that prefers portability and simplicity in their computing and uses their computer for productivity and entertainment. While the machine can handle light to medium photo and video editing, it’s not intended for power users in that regard.

5 Ways To NOT Get A Response When Applying To A Job

Send Resume on Red Button "Enter"on Black Computer Keyboard.

I’m back on the hiring wagon yet again. It’s amazing how much time and effort goes into the process of finding the right person for a job. What’s even more amazing that even in this day and age with some much information at our fingertips, the consistent lack of quality candidates I get. Easily only 10% of those that apply are worthy of consideration. So naturally I was motivated to write another hiring post. Hopefully to be found be future candidates to help bump that number up. This time I around I’m focusing on the pre-interview process and what things candidates do that immediately remove them from consideration.

  1. 3+ Page Resumes – Unless you’re a doctor, engineer or some other deeply technical person, there’s no reason for you resume to be more then 2 pages, and for those earlier in their career, one page is totally doable. Less is more, and lengthy, drawn out resumes are a red flag that you are not a strong, succinct writer.
  2. No Cover Letter – Not having a cover letter pretty much tells me that you aren’t really interested in the role and probably just shotgunned the application with who knows how many other job listings. If you can’t take the time to write something up letting me know that you are authentically interested, I certainly won’t take the time to consider you.
  3. Boilerplate Submissions – Not as bad as no cover letter, but pretty close. It’s very easy to tell when someone just copies and pastes the same cover letter for every job they apply to. Especially when there is absolutely no mention of the company or job they are applying to (happens all the time).
  4. Multiple Spelling or Grammar Errors – I’m no champion of spelling or grammar mistakes. My blog posts could be carved up like a Christmas turkey any day of the week. So I can overlook one or two on a resume or cover letter, but if I feel like I need a cryptograph to read it, I’m probably moving on.
  5. Be Completely Unqualified – I’m all for giving people a shot. Especially if they have strong personal traits that make them a long term hire. But if I’m looking for a digital marketer and you’ve spent the majority of your career crafting balloon animals or singing in a barber shop quartet, you’re probably not going to make the cut.

Ironically, I am looking for a digital marketer for my team. So now that you have the blueprint to make the cut, why not apply?

My Apple Watch Review: 5 Reasons It Works

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It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Apple products. I’m usually an early adopter no matter what the product is. However with the Apple Watch, I actually held back longer than usual for a few reasons. For starters, I’ve never been a watch/jewelry guy. I’ve never liked the feel of wearing anything like that. I also had reservations about how the watch would look. Would it be too bulky? Uncomfortable? And would it really be worth spending that much on a watch? After a few months of letting the reviews filter in, and actually being able to try them out in a store, I ultimately decided that I did want one as the look and feel issues were addressed shortly after getting to try one on.

There are a plenty of Apple Watch reviews out there, most of them favorable, and plenty of ones saying it’s not worth it. It really comes down to personal preference. And honestly, this is a premium piece of equipment. If you are not the kind of person that has some expendable income for fancy gadgets and such, then this is clearly not a device for you. There’s also been way too many overblown expectations out of a 1st generation device. “Wahhh…the battery won’t last a week.” “Boooo….it won’t blend my smoothies.”  “Pffttt….I can’t teleport to work with it.” Get a grip. It’s amazing to me how out of touch some people can get when it comes to technology. This thing is a technical achievement plain and simple. It’s remarkable what something this small can do.

The Apple Watch is not without it’s short comings of course. The current Apps out there are not strong. There’s only a handful of ones that truly work well on the watch. I would imagine over time this will improve as developers have more time to get the user experience right on a smaller device. Also, the Apple watch is heavily dependent on your iPhone currently. Word on the street is that the next version or software updates may improve this, but for now, you must have an iPhone, and you can’t stray too far from it for the watch to optimally perform. Also, the learning curve is a bit steep to get to a point where you get the most out of the watch. Anyone with a lack of patience or some tech savviness may find themselves frustrated.

So with all that being said, here is my simple breakdown of 5 reasons why I think the Apple Watch works. While there are other reasons, these are definitely the ones that stand out the most.

  1. Convenience – I have an iPhone 6 Plus. It’s a big phone. I haven’t regretted it since getting it as I prefer the larger screen, but it is a bit wieldy when it comes to finding pocket space or having to dig it out sometimes. Having the Apple Watch drastically limits the need to pull my phone out when receiving any sort of message or notification. Most of the time these notifications are not urgent, so being able to quickly glance at them without having to pull my phone out is incredibly convenient and efficient. It may not seem like a big deal, but once you experience it, it’s awesome.
  2. Notifications – The Apple Watch does a terrific job of managing your notifications. Through the app on your phone, you can easily select which ones you’d like the watch to notify you of, and how it does. The Taptic engine is really quite amazing. It makes being notified less obtrusive then your phone constantly going off.
  3. Health – This has been a game changer for me. It is incredibly eye opening to actually see how active you are vs. how you think you are. I know there are plenty of fitness wearables on the market these days, and have been for quite some time. I’ve never been motivated to buy or wear a fitness device as it only really serves one purpose. Not being a watch guy, it took a device that could do a variety of things to motivate me to actually get into the habit of wearing a watch every day. So I’m fairly certain there are plenty of other devices that do what the Apple Watch can from a health standpoint, but just like everything else they do, it’s beautiful in it’s execution. Incredibly easy to use, and an absolute motivator for me. I find myself constantly being more aware of my need to stand, move, exercise to a degree that meets my specific health goals that I set up initially. It’s a fantastic entry point for those new to this sort of thing like myself, and I’m sure there are plenty of other additional apps that can do more for those more advanced. Seeing all of your health data add up over time on the phone app is also amazing to see and an additional motivator to keep it up on a daily basis.
  4. Apple Pay – While more and more stores start to take Apple Pay, we’re finally getting to the point where the wallet can become obsolete. I always thought the play would be fingerprint, but the Apple Watch makes it even easier. One button, flash the watch, done. Paying for something has never been easier. The only real downside is having to wait for this to scale so that most stores have this as an option.
  5. Siri Integration – For whatever reason, I’ve never really uses voice recognition with my phone as much as I should. The Apple Watch takes a very important step in making it even easier to use. You simply talk to it. By raising the watch up and asking for Siri, you’re in voice recognition mode. To me that makes all the difference in the world instead of having to trigger it with a button press. Obviously the small screen that comes as a watch makes it a no brainer to use your voice to navigate it, but the fact that it just requires your actual voice to use it makes it quicker, easier and more practical to me.

So what say you? For those that have or had the watch, what’s been your experience?

Being The Underdog Is More Fun

underdog

The March Madness Tournament is one of my favorite sporting events of the year. Not because basketball is really my favorite, but because of all the sporting events in the world, it’s the one event where anything is possible. Upsets. Seeing lower seeds beat the odds and moving on is incredible to watch. Smaller schools not given much of a chance that fight and claw their way to victory over seemingly impossible odds. You just can’t beat it.

I am a hugely competitive person. Not in an unhealthy way by any means, but certainly more so than normal. In all my stops along my career, I’ve never really thought about the underdog analogy too much in business. But in my latest role at SportsArt, it’s come front and center, and I’m loving it very much so far. It can be easier and safer to go with the bigger companies when it comes to your career. Why not? Usually more pay, more benefits, but most importantly, the security that comes with being at the top. However for the first time in my career, I decided to buck that trend, and go with the underdog. And after a few months, it’s been a hell of a lot more fun.

Let me provide some backstory to my point of why that is. SportsArt is a fitness equipment manufacturer with it’s US headquartered in Woodinville, WA and main headquarters based in Taiwan.

SportsArt

Our little neck of the woods – SportsArt

While they’ve been around for 30+ years, their US operations has had it’s ups and downs and currently in the midst of a reawakening after some restructuring and more importantly the hiring of a well known and respected industry veteran, Scott Sechrest. In the past 18 months things have really started to heat up.

In the industry, Precor is a much more well known name and rightfully so. The rise and success of the elliptical machine is their doing and took them from obscurity into a household name. They are one of the big dogs and ironically, are also based out of Woodinville, WA. I drive by their massive building everyday to our much smaller facility right down the street.

The Evil Empire - Precor

The Evil Empire – Precor

A few months ago, both companies were looking for marketing help and I stumbled across both job descriptions. The Precor job listing was your typical business speak laden description. It felt like you’d be walking right into an existing machine of monotony and I shuddered at the thought. The SportsArt listing actually read like a real person wrote it and it wasn’t just regurgitated from a previous listing. So for the first time in my career, I focused my efforts on the smaller company. At the time I didn’t think as much about it as I do now, but I really wanted to build something, not maintain it. And I felt SportsArt was a place that could happen. A few months later and I can definitely say the right choice was made.

We’ve got a ton of work to do, but being in an environment where we’re allowed to take risks, make mistakes, learn from them, etc. is an incredible environment to work in. For years I’ve worked at companies with too many layers of management, too many levels of process, that got in their own way of making progress and innovating. I love the challenge of chasing the big dogs, and I know that as we grow and I get to be a part of that, the incredible feeling of accomplishment and achievement will be unmatched.

And let’s be honest…chasing is more fun then being chased don’t you think?

Living Life Against The Grain

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I’m not sure if the term really applies to this blog post, but I’m going to go with it anyway. One of the things I’ve really strived for later in life is figuring out ways to better use my time. Time is really our biggest luxury. Money’s great and all, but time is what it’s all about. Time with people you love, time to do the things you enjoy, just having extra time in general.

One of the biggest satisfactions I have right now is when I drive to work. For the first 18 years or so of my professional life, I easily averaged at least a 45-60 minute commute to and from work. That’s roughly 2 hours a day just traveling to my job. I’ve been fortunate enough to find an opportunity where my commute is now 20 minutes each way because I’m going in the opposite direction of traffic. I peer over to the other side of the freeway and see a parking lot and I absolutely revel in happiness that I am not stuck in that anymore. I literally have an extra day of the week to work with. I took less money for sure, but the added time is worth it.

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