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June 2017

Blog Reviews

Things I’m Into (June 2017)

Things Jerad Hill Likes Summer June 2017

I am a Bon vivant of technology. That’s really just a fancy way of saying that I like tech and do what I can to obtain it. I enjoy experiencing new technology or refined versions of existing tech. I love talking about it and sharing it with others.

During a meeting earlier today I was asked about why I had a PC laptop instead of a Mac which is what I had in my last meeting with this client only a few months ago. A few hours later I was explaining to another client why I think tablets are useless devices. We also discussed the change in social norms in regards to use of certain technologies in different situations. It’s all very interesting to me.

In my private journaling, I sometimes make note of my current interests or of information I am currently consuming, but I don’t often enough because I am used to sharing things like this publically through social media. The continued problem I have with social media is how challenging it is to find past information posted to them. It is much easier to search a website when you need to reference something posted in the past. This is why I am wanting to share more about my current likes on my blog. I hope you find it interesting.

Quote of the Month:


This is the first year I have felt in “summer mode” in ages. Since my kids are now in school, Summer is the time in which we have the freedom to take a vacation and get out of town more often. We spent a few days down south visiting family and going to a water park. Next month we will go camping for a week. It has been hot in Modesto, but I’m glad it’s summer time.

Let's slide!

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I have a 7 Year Old:

My oldest turned 7 this month. That excites and scares me at the same time. He is getting big and is becoming his own person. He is exploring what he likes and learning quickly what he dislikes. He can act so grown up at times, but still, can play like a little kid. These are excellent times I live in.

Too hot for fun.

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Eating Better:

It’s been years since I have consumed unhealthy foods in a consistent manner, but I have had a problem with consuming unhealthy amounts of food. I don’t want to label it a compulsion, but maybe it is at times. I found myself eating what was on my plate and clearing out whatever my kids didn’t eat. I would snack in the evening after my kids went to bed. Every breakfast was at Starbucks or Jamba Juice. I picked up a Smart Scale and have been tracking my weight. I am big into metrics. Without data, I can not make change in my life. Tracking something as simple as my weight gives me the strength to stop eating when I have had enough.


I have been a Weezer fan since the Blue Album dropped during my teen years. Though I have been a loyal fan over the past 17 years, I have never seen them live. That changed last weekend. It was a good show. Wish I had been able to see them in their earlier years. Also, Weezer is best experienced with good friends.

Weezer + some other bands!

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Also, you should dance like somebody sitting near you is filming it.

Guy dancing and not giving any fs.

Blade of the MonthBenchmade Hidden Canyon Hunter: I love this small fixed blade knife. It came with a horizontal carry leather sheath. I was not sure if I would like a fixed blade knife since I enjoy the deployment aspect of a folding knife. I find myself desiring to carry this knife more often because of it’s style and utility.

This @FlatTailBrewing #ElGuapo is delightful. Refreshing, yet cuts.

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I don’t explore the app marketplace as much as I used to. For several years I wrote about apps and reviewed them online professionally. I may have burned myself out. During any given month I do happen across an app or two that does add value to my life. It may be a new productivity tool or a fun game to escape to for a few minutes when I have time. Here is what I’m using this month. – This task management app actually does reminders really well, especially on Android. I use Trello for task management because I like being able to move tasks through a process as I work on them but I need something more in my face when it comes to reminders. does this well. I did sign up for Premium because that allows for recurring reminders to be added. As I continue to try and use my Google Home device more, I may change how I handle reminders, but for now, is where it’s at.

RobinHood – I have been taking Stockmarket Investing more serious over the last year. I like being able to manage it myself and without paying fees. I like what RobinHood has done in this space. I started by spending spare change in the app purchasing a few stocks here and there for around $5.00. We just recently paid off both of our vehicles so now I plan to put what was a car payment into the stock market each month. RobinHood is an app I spend a few moments in every day as I check on my current holdings and explore stocks for further purchase. RobinHood is free to join and if you want to try it, use the following link to sign up and RobinHood will give you a free stock:


Sony a9 – I recently purchased the latest mirrorless innovation from Sony, the Alpha a9 camera. In this camera, Sony fixed some of the gripes I had with their a7 line of cameras and I was eager to try it out. Though I am not a fan of the price compared to what I paid for my Sony a7rII, I have found it’s new features to be valuable to me in moments where I need to act fast to get the shot. I have always invested in camera gear that allows me to do my job better.

Sony a9.

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Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus – After spending most of 2016 on the Android platform, I switched back to Apple for a short while earlier this year. It was not long before I was regretting my decision and decided to return to the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus. The battery life is amazing on this phone and I like the taller screen which allows for more content. I also recently discovered SideSync which allows me to access everything from my phone on my computer. That means responding to text messages, file sharing, using apps, checking voicemail, and so much more. I always ran back to Apple because their product echosystem is well put together, but there are still a lot of limitations there. SideSync is not perfect, but it does much more than allow you to use Messages on your Mac to respond to text messages you get on your phone.

Dell XPS 15 9560 – I also spent a lot of time last year chasing the perfect laptop. It was hard to find that in the world of PC. I tried last years Dell XPS 15 but there were a few issues I had with it. Those issues were fixed in this years version of the XPS 15. Dell’s XPS line is a beautiful design. The display is gorgeous and the build of the laptop is nice. The display bezels are tiny which gives you more screen than most other laptops of the same size offer. The 4K display also has a wider color gamut than anything else on the market which is important for me as a Photographer. It has an SD Card slot which most other companies are omitting these days, also important for a Photographer who hates carrying unneccesarry adapters. Lastly, it has a pretty powerful graphics card which assists in faster video rendering. Since I am filming most things in 4K now, more power is needed and that is why I am using a Windows PC and not an Apple MacBook Pro.


I used to read a lot but have allowed distractions to prevent me from opening a book. Sometimes I just don’t have a book with me when I have free time so I pull out my phone. I have started carrying my Kindle Oasis with me again so I can read distraction free. Having the Kindle app on my phone allows for too many distractions and notifications to get in the way.

12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You – I preordered this book on Amazon after seeing a tweet about it. I am very much into the way technology is changing us, especially in regards to how it affects us spiritually. I am 3/4 through this book and have found it to be very enlightening. I may even write a review of the book which is something I haven’t done in years.

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life – As I continue to get older I find myself more and more interested in the brain and how it works. I also am very interested in how and why I make decisions the way I do and how I can improve the way I process everything I come in contact with both internally and externally.

New Morning Mercies – A Daily Gospel Devotional – My wife and I purchased this book last year at a conference but I did not start reading it until this year. I’m currently getting into a devotion about once a week, but have recently set a reminder on my phone using Anydo to prod me each day to get into it. So far its helping.


It was hard to keep this post short considering it is the first of it’s kind. I am going to try to do a post like this monthly, perhaps I should set a reminder right now in If you find it interesting, let me know. Please understand that the links I provided to actual products are Amazon Affiliate links. I decided to blog on the topic of the things I like because I wanted an ongoing record of what I am doing, not to make a profit from it. Affiliate links do help pay the bills though, so if you want to explore something furthur, click away. I have always enjoyed sharing publically about different aspects of my life, so posting like this here on my blog just makes sense to me.

Next month’s post will likely have a lot of camping related likes. Every time we go camping I learn a lot and discover new things I want to try and explore with my kids.

It’s summer friends, go out and explore!


How to Build a Shiplap Photo Wall Backdrop DIY


Shiplap is all the craze so when my wife asked me to help her build a backdrop for a photo booth, we thought, “why not shiplap it!” Shiplapping something is not really hard, it just involves cutting and painting the wood. Some hardware stores even have premade shiplap boards, but they are expensive. I wanted to keep this project as cheap as possible, so I used 2x4s and fence boards.

The photo backdrop wall received a lot of comments, so I thought I would do a tutorial on how I built it.

As I mentioned before, I wanted to do this on the cheap. I saw prebuilt fence style walls for $120 and I would have needed three of them. I saw the prefab shiplap boards, but they were $18-$25 each. That would have made the cost of my wall reach $500. No thanks!

I went to Lowe’s to purchase lumber because I happened to be closer to Lowe’s at the time. I ended up needing a few other boards and was closer to HomeDepot and noticed that Lowe’s lumber was higher quality and the boards I went with were 6″ wide where HomeDepot’s are 5.5″ wide. You can see the difference in the middle section of the wall which is slightly shorter than the outside two.

Here are the fence boards from Lowes that I used, hopefully this link always stays up:

2x4s are 2x4s, do you really need a link?


The entire wall is built from 2×4’s and 6 inches by 6 ft fence boards. We bought the cheapest white paint in the place and rolled it on as you will see below.

Each wall consisted of three 2×4’s and thirteen fence boards. I used screws to assemble them because I knew I might need to take them apart to store them. I will get to how I secured them so they stood up strong at the end.


I started by cutting off the top portion of the board because true shiplap doesn’t taper off at the ends like a fence. That took an inch off of the width making each wall five feet eleven inches in width. The walls being almost six feet in width made for an interesting challenge for transporting them. Luckily, I had access to a trailer that was just over six feet wide and ten feet in length. I decided to make the walls 59 inches wide because cutting the boards down to four feet would have just wasted wood. If I had found boards eight feet tall I could have cut them in half.


With my boards cut and three 2×4’s on the ground evenly spaced, I started to lay the trimmed fence boards. I measured across at the bottom, middle, and top to assure I didn’t build a slanted wall. I also measured from corner to corner to assure the wall was square in the corners. This is important to do before you start screwing boards in.

I used 2″ flat-head exterior wall screws. In the past I have used drywall screws, these screws are the same, just a bit tougher:


The walls came together fast. So fast that my wife was actually frustrated at how little time it took me. I think she hoped it would take actual blood, sweat, and tears. It only took a little bit of sweat, cause it was hot out.


This is the completed first wall. I wanted to stand it up to see how sturdy it was. I basically built a vertical fence. That is what Shiplap is, a vertical fence.


I ended up being short one board so I went to HomeDepot because it’s closer to my house. Their fence boards are 5.5″ instead of 6″. I was not about to drive all of the way to Lowes to get one single board so I bought one and one of my walls was slightly shorter than the other two. It ended up not looking bad at all. I could have cut down two of the other boards but I did not have a table saw to assure ripping a half of an inch off of the six-inch boards was perfect.


The next step was painting. Fence boards can absorb some paint. It took the entire gallon of paint to cover these boards. I went over them twice and I probably could have put another coat on them. The gallon of paint we bought was $18.00.


With the walls painted, I decided I should paint the sides because there will probably be a slight gap between them. I did not want anything unpainted showing through. In retrospect, I probably could have painted the side of the 2x4s that faces forward because through the boards you can just barely see the 2×4’s running down the walls. Painting the 2x4s would have been a nice finish touch.


My wife wanted to see how they looked standing up so I quickly stood them up so we could take a look.


Before packing the walls up, I took a selfie!


I built the walls to use them as a photo backdrop at a Market my wife and a couple of her friends put on each year. I wanted to make sure they were sturdy because the last thing I wanted was one of these walls to come down. I bought some metal T-Post posts, which are the same posts used for a temporary fence, and slammed them into the ground. You will need a Fence Post Driver to slam them into the ground. If the ground is hard, these will be a pain to remove from the ground. I was ok with that because I wanted this wall to be able to withstand some wind or something leaning up against it.


You can see the green T-Posts running down the 2x4s. I used 5/16″ x 2″ lag bolts to attach the T-Posts to the back of the walls. I used lag bolts because I wanted something strong.

5/16×2″ Lag Bolts:

Just in case I needed them, I brought a few extra 2x4s to attach to the walls mid way and run down at an angle to the ground. You can see two of them in the image. The wall did not need these, but I figured I would put them there just in case. We set the walls up the night before and I wanted some extra protection against wind. Enough wind or someone pushing on the walls could bend the T-Posts and make the walls fall. The two additional supports made it stronger and gave me peace-of-mind.

I attached the 2×4’s to the wall with a couple of Joist Hangers and put two small wood stakes in the ground where the 2x4s met the ground. I used screws to attach the 2x4s to the wood stakes in the ground. I was done!

1-3/4-in x 5-1/16-in Triple Zinc Slope/Skew Hanger:


Check out my wife’s market:

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