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Hi Apple, I’m Back…

So here I am back on Apple after going back and forth for over a year now. Over the last year and a half I have been battling with trying to find the perfect Windows computer that would give me the experience I am used to having with Apple products. I am not necessarily talking about the aesthetics alone, as there are some pretty decent Windows computers out there these days. What I am talking mostly about here is the ecosystem that Apple has built around their products. I spoke about this in an Apple vs Windows video I published on YouTube a month or so ago. Since posting that video, I have dove even deeper back into Apple.

Since posting that video on YouTube, many have called me out as an Apple Fanboy knocking on Windows. That is far from the truth as many of you who read this blog know how hard I have tried to get away from Apple. As I will explain below, I just can’t, and it has nothing to do with anything other than the Apple ecosystem. Believe me when I say that I wish there was another way. I want nothing more to be on Windows and Android, it’s definitely the cool thing right now to switch from Apple to a PC. I will do my best to explain why that just can’t be for now.

New MacBook Pro 2016 in the bag

That new MacBook Pro swagger!


I started off this year now even owning an Apple product as part of any of my personal devices. We have an Apple TV at home, but only because we own over 200 movies and around 100 TV shows we have purchased on the platform. We are kind of locked in as far as the Apple TV goes. Other than that, my wife has an iPhone, and my kids play on an iPod Touch, but personally, I used no Apple products. I had a Windows laptop, and my phone and tablet were Android.

The discontent I was feeling mostly came from the broken connectivity between my devices. In 2017, I expect all of my devices to talk to each other and I should be able to use one device to connect to the other devices. You can accomplish this as a Windows and Android user, it’s just kind of broken.

Even when I was using a Mac laptop and an Android phone the process was kind of broken. I used Pushbullet so I could respond to text messages using my computer in a similar way you can use iMessage to reply to text messages on your Mac that came in through your iPhone. Pushbullet is pretty fantastic, but it doesn’t always work perfect. It’s not as clean of an interface to use as iMessage is on the Mac. I would have to really pay attention to assure I was responding to the right person. It runs as a Chrome browser extension and I would have to want for the text message to completely send before clicking away from that window or I might lose the message. There were also situations where the message would hang and never send. I would sit there for 30 seconds or more waiting for it to send only to have it fail. This most likely is not a Pushbullet issue, but it was still annoying.

I could also use Pushbullet to send photos between my laptop and my phone. This worked the same on a Mac as it did on a Windows PC using Pushbullet. I did miss how easy it was to use Airdrop between a Mac and an iPhone. So simple. I have owned a lot of Android phones and when I try to make them my main phone, I always use Pushbullet because there just isn’t anything else that makes it that easy to send and receive your text messages from your laptop or desktop computer. 

The closest I got to finding true love on Windows is with the Razer Blade laptop. It kind of looks like an Apple laptop with that premium aluminum build quality. It even came in black, which is a color I had wished for from Apple for years. The problem with the Razer Blade had nothing to do with the laptop itself, it had to do with not being able to find as good of a user experience when doing the work that I do.

There is a lot of software these days that is the exact same experience whether you are on a Mac or a PC. Take Adobe Photoshop and just about any Adobe applications for example. Besides Windows utilizing the “control” key on the keyboard where Apple has the “command” key, the software experience was the same. I saw drastic differences in performance in tasks such as rendering out video in Adobe Premiere Pro. The Razer Blade I own has very similar specs to the MacBook Pro I just purchased last month with the touch bar. Side note: I absolutely hate the touch bar and the fact that the only way I can differentiate my MacBook Pro from any other is to mention it is the one with the touch bar. I’m sorry, but a touch bar just sounds inappropriate… I digress.

MacBook Pro 2016 vs Razer Blade with Razer Core Video Rendering Battle

Video Rendering Battle between the MacBook Pro 2016 and the Razer Blade with Razer Core & GTX 1080 GPU


When it came to performance, there was not much of a difference between the Mac and the PC I currently used. Sure the Razer Blade would slaughter the MacBook Pro when it came to rendering out video, but other than that, there was no real difference. Both laptops have similar processors and both have 16 GB of RAM. Unfortunately you simply cannot get more than 16GB of RAM right now in most slimstyle laptops. Here are a few areas in which each laptop was in fact better than the other.

Razer Blade Windows Laptop

  • Huge advantage for video editing, specifically rendering out video. I have not seen any performance difference during the actual editing process. Performance boosts were in rendering and in playback, but only when playing back 4K video.
  • 4K display is kind of cool for viewing larger media such as zooming in on high resolution photos I took.
  • I will mention that this laptop is a clear winner if you are into gaming. I am not, which is why this is not a factor for me.
  • Ability to connect an external GPU was fantastic. Using the Razer Core and a GTX 1080 GPU, I was able to get blazing fast performance when rendering video projects. I have some videos showcasing the difference on the State of Tech YouTube channel.

MacBook Pro Late 2016 with Touch Bar

  • Native resolution is better for productivity. I had a hard time on the Razer finding a resolution that allowed me to easily multitask and have a couple of applications in view at a time.
  • Battery life is a clear winner on the MacBook Pro. Even when rendering video, though the Mac is slower, at least the Mac would have enough battery left to do more work after rendering a video project.
  • The Apple ecosystem is far superior to what Windows can offer, even if you are using a Windows phone. Windows 10 is leaps and bounds better than Windows has ever been before, but it still tries to be too many things to too many people, which ends up limiting it’s usefulness for people who want their laptop, phone, and tablet to be able to work well together.
  • Average software user experience: The majority of software developed for Mac OS has user experience in mind. There are a lot of good applications for Windows, but many of them have poor user experience. Most specifically, I use Coda from Panic, Inc. daily. When I switched to PC, it was hard to find software that was 1/2 as good as Coda is. One of the main reasons I came back to Apple was because of Coda from Panic, Inc.
  • AirDrop: I do a lot with photography and social media. It is so much easier to transfer images from an iPhone to a Mac than it is on other platforms using AirDrop. I have tried dozens of applications for Android on both Mac and PC. Nothing performs as well and is as simple to use as AirDrop.

If I wanted to go into extreme detail, I could mention a few other pros and cons about each platform, but I think most of you see where I am going with this.

Now I know that there is no such thing as true multitasking. We like to think that we are multitasking but in reality we as simply task switching. I am a professional at task switching and have been for many years. I juggle a lot of plates and I want to be able to get between tasks quickly. Mac OS and the iPhone simply allow that to happen better than I have experienced on Windows and Android. Up until late last year, no Android phone has been able to hang with the frequency in which I task switch between apps. The Google Pixel XL is the first phone that did not start to lag after I swapped between a couple of tasks. The only thing that Android has going for it over the iPhone is the ability to share items. On Android, you can share just about anything between any app. You are more limited here on iOS. It’s not a deal breaker for me though. Some would also argue that Android is better at multitasking, and in some ways it has been. However, with Android 8.0 coming out, it looks like the Android operating system is not going to let apps just do as they wish in the background anymore. This is likely to help Android phones have longer battery life. I can easily get two days of battery life out of my iPhone 7 Plus, but can only get through about 24 hours with my Google Pixel XL. The majority of Android phones I have had over the years would not even last me until dinner time on a single charge. This is due to how much I use my phone throughout the day of course. Your mileage may vary from mine.

IPhone 7 Plus Product RED Edition

Sorry, but there just are not many (if any) Android phones that look better than this iPhone 7 Plus Product RED in a Black Leather iPhone Case.


Build quality is another issue that Apple just rarely has a problem with. Each product developed by Apple is beautiful. The design does not change much from year to year, but the build quality is second to none. Samsung’s flagship Galaxy line has a similar cost and the build quality just isn’t there. Sure they build in interesting features that some may consider gimmicks, but if you look at the build quality of their devices, it does not match the attention to detail that Apple has with their iPhone. Look at the average PC laptop, which is not built very well. There are some PC laptops that stand out and look fantastic, such as the Dell XPS and Razer Blade laptops. PC manufactures are learning slowly, but they can’t seem to get away from building budget products which requires them to cut corners.

Consistency is king!

At this chapter in my life, I just need things to work. Apple products just work, and without much customization. I love customizing my tech, but when it comes to what I need to get work done, I just want it to work and to stay out of my way. Mac OS and iOS does that in a way Windows simply does not. I can easily live on Android, but there are a few conveniences that make using an iPhone and a Mac together better than a Mac and an Android phone.

I am not a fan of how slowly Apple has been rolling out quality updates to their products. I still throw up in my mouth a bit when I realize how much money I spent on my laptop with older internals and a touch bar. I wanted Windows to be my new home, and in some ways, it could have been. If I was primarily editing photos and video in Adobe software, I would had stayed on Windows. The performance increases alone would make it worth it. I have even contemplated building another Windows PC for my office so I could use it for heavy lifting and then use my MacBook Pro for less process intensive work as I am using it for now.

My plan is to try and wait until later this year before making any other decisions. If Apple updates their Mac Pro, I may look at purchasing one of those, but only if they put a serious graphics card in it. I don’t want to be forced into using Final Cut Pro X by Apple. I prefer Adobe products, and Adobe software renders much better on Windows PCs that can take advantage of GPUs that are more powerful. I am also considering building a Hackintosh, which is essentially a PC that you install the Mac OS on. The list of available hardware that you can get to work with Mac OS is much bigger these days than it used to be. A Hackintosh could be the answer to my need for more horsepower when editing video.

There is no perfect computer or platform

Mac OS and Windows has to be a lot of things. It can’t just be a platform for developers and it can’t be the perfect platform for video editors. People do many things on these platforms and because of that, they can’t be all things. Phones can’t be perfect either. They can get close, but they can’t be perfect. The iPhone has many shortcomings as does many Android phones. What it really comes down to is choosing a platform that works best for you most of the time. What platform is going to help you get done what you spend most of your time doing? Since switching back to Apple, I have been less stressed because everything just works. It might not work as fast as some other available laptops and phones, but it makes up for it in consistency. The Apple ecosystem is not as much of a battle as attempting to make multiple platforms talk to each other. It is better than it ever has been, but not as simplified as Apple has made it for their own products. For a moment, Samsung attempted to build their own ecosystem, but they experienced a ton of pushback early on. Apple has just always been this way, and it’s why they can get away with it.

Call me an Apple Fanboy if it will make you feel better, but I’m able to be more productive on my MacBook Pro and an iPhone. That’s just the way it is. It’s less to worry about and less problematic. That is what I need in my life right now.

What’s your perfect setup?

What works, or has worked for you when it comes to keeping your technology connected? Share it with me in the comments below, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter.

Blog Technology

After 18 Years I’m Taking A Break From Apple

Why I'm Taking A Break From Apple

My first computer was an Apple II. Prior to that, we had a PC in the house running DOS, but I was pretty much just played Load Runner on it. I remember toward the end of that computers life I dialed into a couple of BBS boards to post some questions. It was not long after that when I got an Apple IIGS for Christmas. That computer was awesome. It was color, had a CD-Rom, and an internal model. It was the future.  I used that computer for several years and upgraded it along the way. I was 8 years old when I upgraded the RAM on my own. (Watch my video and continue reading below.)

Fast forward several years, I purchased a PC computer from Dell with college savings money. I wanted more power than my IIGS had to offer and it was getting hard to code from a severely outdated Mac. Windows is where it was at. Windows 98 had just dropped and Apple was struggling to find it’s footing. For the next four years, I was a PC user. I upgraded to Windows XP, built a powerhouse of a computer as I had recently started editing video. In early 2001, I started hearing about how much better it was to do creative work on a Mac. Final Cut Pro had come out and I wanted it. I purchased a small Mac laptop called a Powerbook G4. It was a pretty powerful little laptop. My plan was to use it to edit video and keep my PC for my important work. Within a week, I had found software to write code in and my PC was shelved. From that moment forward, I was an Apple user.

Over the last few years, I have grown frustrated with the way many companies develop and deploy their products. Apple has not really innovated much in the last several years, yet they continue to release new variations of their products each year and charge a premium. Apple is not the only company to do this, it’s simply the state of the technology industry. We are in a valley right now where tech companies don’t have to release anything good. They had their major advancements several years ago and now they simply have to slowly release small updates and call them fancy names like “Retina” or “Edge.” I used to upgrade my Macbook Pro laptop almost every year because there would be a decent increase in performance due to a new type of hard drive or something like that. I would justify purchasing the latest iPhone each year because I ran a tech website and wanted to have the latest features from Apple. I have always been an early adopter of new features.

This last year especially, I have felt a lot of apathy toward technology in general. I spent so many years chasing and implementing new technologies into my life that when innovation kind of stopped, I felt empty. Apple has not done anything interesting in several years. People can say the Apple Watch was an innovation, but smartwatches are kind of a novelty. I think that the SmartWatch is simply something else for us to buy while companies try to leak more money out of us while they battle to figure out what will be next. I have had a dozen different smartwatches and all they are is an additional distraction. None of them work that well and do much more than notify us of things.

Apple is not the only one at fault. Samsung and other smartphone companies are not doing much innovation outside of adding gimmicky features that most of us don’t really need. I have used the word gimmick to explain smartwatches quite a bit.

I felt that Google was very close with Google GLASS, however, it was a little futuristic for people to accept and it never went anywhere. I still feel that our notifications will be displayed to us in some form of a heads-up display (HUD) in the near future through something like a smart contact lens. Technology just isn’t quite there yet and in my opinion, the tech companies know they have not squeezed every dollar out of us that they can with the current technology available.

My battle with technology has been quite public. In late January of this year, I announced that I was back on the iPhone after having taken almost an entire year off of the platform using nothing but Android devices. If you look through my Instagram or Twitter feed, you can see additional evidence of this ongoing battle. In late 2014, I purchased my first Sony camera because I was tired waiting for Canon to innovate again. What I am going through now with smartphones and computers is what I was going through toward the end of my time as a Canon Photographer. What really burned me with Canon was having spent almost $6,000 on a Cinema Camera only to have them cut the price almost in half and upgrade the camera in under a year after it’s original launch. Canon obviously did not care about their customer’s investments in their products. Sony does update most of their cameras every year, but at least you know what to expect from them.

Up until late last week, I had been using the same Macbook Pro for a little over two years. That is a long time for me as I usually upgrade my laptop every year. I had been contemplating the purchase of an upgraded iMac. I needed more power than my laptop was offering but I didn’t want to buy a new laptop because not much had changed in the past two years. I was not willing to give Apple another $3,500 just to get a small bump in performance. The upgraded iMac that I actual had on order was going to cost me just over $3,500. I was not that thrilled with what I was getting for the money because it still was not that much better than what my laptop currently offered me. That is when I started considering switching to PC.

Switching to Windows had been an ongoing joke at Hill Media Group. We joked around calling Windows 10 the superior platform. In all honesty, I kind of liked Windows 10. I had it running in Parallels on my Mac so I could test websites and code in Microsoft Edge browser. Microsoft seemed to have found a nice mix of what they were trying to do with Windows 8 and what was great about Windows 7. Though Windows 10 is still very much Windows, it is so much better than it has been for many years. The last good version of Windows, in my opinion, was Windows XP. That was a pretty solid OS, even though not a day went by without a new exploit having been discovered. It was solid, and you could trust it.

Up until now, I didn’t even consider Windows as a solid option because I had so much invested in Apple products. I felt that I was much more productive on a Mac than I could ever been on a PC. That was very true up until Window 10. I probably could have gotten by on Windows 7, but would have been devastated once Windows 8 came out. Some could argue, but the Mac is what has worked for me.

We all come to a crossroad where we have to decide if we can justify making decisions the same way as we have in the past. When it comes to my technology choices, I have been more open to change lately. That change is mostly connected to cost and features. There really has not been much as far as innovation from both sides of the computing fence in the past few years. Microsoft has tried with it’s updates to Windows, but hardware has not seen anything revolutionary. Apple has not done much either. So that leaves me with the question, “why continue buying expensive hardware?” I find myself spending the majority of my time in specific applications like Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and code editors. These applications are exactly the same between both platforms. There are small useful features Apple’s OS X has such as AirDrop, Messages, and simplified system settings. The problem is that most of those features are only useful if all of your devices run Apple software. While using Android phones and tablets, I have found solutions that allow me to use some of these services. I also realized that I have completely neutralized my devices by using services that work on both platforms. On both iPhone and Android I use Google Photos, Google Drive, Slack, Trello, and a variety of other apps that are cross-platform. Whether I use an iPhone or an Android phone, it’s a similar experience, just on different devices.

Last week I switched back to Android because I realized I had too much technology that I was not using and that was not optimized to fit my current needs. I have a Macbook Pro, an iPhone, an iPad Pro, an iPad Mini, an iPod Touch, and an Apple Watch. I found various reasons for justifying each purchase but what it really came down to is that I realized that Apple has built multiple technologies with just enough additional features to get people like me to buy each of them. I bought the iPad Mini because we needed an iPad at the office and it’s perfect to use with my camera drones. I bought the iPad Pro because it’s an excellent replacement for a laptop when I don’t need all of the features of a larger laptop. In fewer words, it’s more mobile. More mobile than a thin laptop? Come on! Obviously, I have been in a technology spiral for a while now.

The other day, I placed my first order from Dell since 1998. It was for a Dell XPS 15″ laptop, which is basically Dell’s version of a Macbook Pro. It has decent technology packed into a sleek looking package. It has a touch screen and I can put enough RAM in it to handle Adobe Lightroom a bit better. I get all of that, and it’s a few hundred dollars less than a new Macbook Pro. It doesn’t sound like much more, and it’s not. It’s just different and it’s a step in a direction away from premium priced hardware.

Please don’t take this as a dis on Apple. They are a company that is here to make money. They didn’t make it to the most profitable company in the Unites States on accident. Profit comes from placing as much space between cost to create and retail price as possible. Apple has become the leader in this practice and there is no way to achieve extreme profitability while at the same time releasing next level technology. Other companies have been trying to replicate their practice. It’s just the way it is.

So I am surrendering and going in a different direction. I have sold some of my Apple gear and plan to get rid of the rest. I don’t know how long that will last but I don’t see myself returning to Apple for a while. We will continue to have a few of them in our home as we have invested a lot of money in movie and tv show purchases. I need hardware that can keep up with the software I use without costing a fortune. The platform doesn’t really matter that much anymore. The gap has closed and all that is left is deciding what kind of hardware you are going to use. Some may try and argue with me over that fact but that is ok. It’s a matter of opinion.

Apple has produced some pretty amazing gadgets over the years, but for the time being, I need to take a break from the mediocrity of their current offerings.

I am definitely not losing out or sacrificing by switching to Android and Windows 10. I am currently using the Samsung GTalaxy S7 Edge as my phone. The screen on this phone is much more vibrant and clear than the iPhone screen. The camera is fantastic as well. The Edge features are a big gimmicky, but I have found using Edge for the quick launching of apps to be nice. It allows me to keep apps off of the home screen of the phone so I can see my background photo. I am currently using a Lenovo Yoga 900 series laptop. It is underpowered, but it has some cool features. While I wait for my Dell XPS 15 to get here, I am getting used to Windows 10 and finding that it is more customizable than Apple’s OS X operating system.

Yesterday I had a client call who was experiencing some major issues with their website. Though I had yet to do any developing on Windows 10, I did have a few applications installed I knew I would need. There were two short instances where I had to remember a few Windows-specific functions, but I was editing code in no time and I felt comfortable.

It will take some time to tell whether I will regret my decision to move away from Apple. I still have some learning to do in regards to Windows 10, but I am enjoying it so far. I still like Apple and their products, I just can’t continue on a path of spending so much money on them. If their products were truly providing value that I could not get anywhere else, like they used to, then I could justify the expense. However, these days Apple products do not provide any additional value. They may be good looking products, but they are also the more expensive choice.

What are your thoughts on this? I know that people can get very emotional when it comes to their technology products. Over the years, people have called me an Apple Fanboy among other things as I have always been fairly pro-Apple. I am still a fan of Apple, I just hope they can once again find their Steve Jobs roots and start innovating products that change the world again.

Blog Photography Technology

Latest Indulgence: Camera Drones

DJI Phanton 4 Unboxing, Setup and First Flight

Camera Drones are nothing new, they have been around for several years now and have become pretty cheap to own. DJI, a Chinese company, popularized the camera drone with their Phantom line of quadcopters. From that, many camera drone companies have spawned and create their own twist on the perfect flying camera.

I originally ignored my desire to have a flying camera because of one reason. Like most things, if I don’t think I have the chops to pick something up right away, I avoid it. I just don’t have the time to spend learning something new. I have time for a hobby, but I have to be good enough at it to enjoy it with limited time invested. I hope that this changes one day soon as I love nothing more than immersing myself in something new and learning everything there is to know about it.

Many of you know that I have a love of technology. Whether it be new cameras, phones, computers, or whatever, I love technology.

ilovetechnology

A month ago, I decided to purchase a camera drone. I wanted to be able to add a new element to the videos I create. It had to be something different than what I was doing or could do with the current gear I already had. I also wanted to be able to create footage on par with what I could capture with the cameras I currently use.

DJI came out with the Inspire 1 Pro, which is a camera drone that has a gimbal mounted micro four thirds camera on it. The camera can accept different lenses, which was what I wanted. Typical drone cameras are similar to a GoPro camera. They do not have an adjustable iris (aperture) and it is hard to get really good footage that looks dynamic and has depth to it. Prior to DJI’s Inspire 1 Pro, a comparable set up would cost over $10,000.

I’m one of those guys who gets into something and gets confident fast. I am a fast learner and can usually pick up on things. Within hours of owning the Inspire 1 Pro, I felt pretty confident at controlling it in the air. After a couple of flights, I got a little too close to a wall and crashed it. Thankfully there was minimal damage as only a prop and the foot of the landing gear was damaged. I quickly sent it in to have it repaired.

While I was waiting for my Inspire 1 Pro to be repaired, I was able to get my hands on a DJI Phantom 4. This is DJI’s latest Phantom camera drone that just came out spring of 2016. This camera drone is light weight and agile. It is simple to set up and get in the air. The camera is pretty decent so long as you are flying it in daylight. I have been pretty impressed with this drone, especially at the price point it comes in at. With my new found respect for solid objects, I have been more careful flying the Phantom and have spent a lot more time flying it than I have the Inspire 1 Pro, which is still out for repair.

Here is a video of the Phantom 4 setup and my first flight.

Here is a video of some flight testing I did up in the foothills in CA.

The Phantom 4 has this cool feature that helps it avoid obstacles. This would not have helped me with the Inspire 1 Pro because I simply got too close to a wall with the Inspire. The Phantom has sensors in the front and on the bottom of the device that do a good job keeping it out of trouble.

For me, the camera drone is new. It’s something that I can get excited about because it is different than what I am used to. I feel my best when I am challenged. Even though these drones are easy to fly compared to the typical hobby radio controlled drone, I have had a lot of fun learning about this platform. It’s new, and it makes me think. Now that I have my first crash taken care of, I feel more confident  (real confidence) and am ready to tackle new flight challenges.

If you want to see some of the video from my flights and future flights, check out my Instagram or my Youtube channel. I will be adding more content there as I have a chance to get out and fly.

Blog Technology

And I’m Back on iPhone

iphone 6s plus

To anyone who has received a blue chat bubble from me in the last 24 hours, I am back on iPhone. Last Summer, I wrote a post about how I won’t be buying the iPhone 6S or the iPhone 6S Plus. I went into detail about how Apple doesn’t innovate much anymore, blah blah blah. I was pretty adamant about my decision and did not see myself wavering. However, after some frustration I will elude to below, I decided it was time to go back to iOS for the time being.

When I sold my iPhone 6 Plus, I was using a Nexus 6 and was quite happy with it. My iPhone 6 Plus had become something I would leave behind for the Nexus. A few months later, I purchased the LG G4. The camera was nice on the G4 and the phone worked well. However, after a while, the phone became a bit slow and would lag on me. The camera would fail to open and I would have to restart the phone to get it working again. I purchased a Samsung Galaxy S6 and was plagued by the horrible battery life. I went for the Samsung Galaxy S6 Active which had a slightly larger battery but had lag issues as well. I moved on to the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, which was a great phone but had a lot of features I didn’t need that seemed to bog the phone down a bit. That led me to the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, which was a beast of a phone, but I couldn’t justify having spent that much money on a Samsung phone. I also spent a few weeks with a Moto X Pure, but it would lag on me as well.

As of yesterday evening, I was using a Nexus 6P and had been since its release date last fall. I like the phone, but it has some minor lag issues that keep me from using certain features of the phone. I also notice that when I am using Android phones, I take fewer photos. I am not sure why as most Android flavors provide a more useful camera experience than the iPhone does. I guess the iPhone camera is just more accessible and there are less features in the way of using it as a camera.

My Nexus 6P was having major lag issues and I needed to make a change. I obviously had been through a lot of Android phones in the last year. Going through Android phones is a problem I have. I have lost count, but since Android launched in late 2008, I have owned over 60 Android phones. It’s pretty ridiculous. I should have kept a log.

I have found that Android is not a very consistent experience for me unless the device has 4 GB of RAM memory. There are very few Android phones that have this amount of memory. Most phones that do, lack something else. The only two phones that are a solid flagship phone that have 4 GB of RAM are Samsung devices. I don’t have anything against Samsung phones, I just don’t like all of the preinstalled software and lack of battery longevity.

The latest Nexus devices come with Android 6.0 installed. This is the latest version of Android which has some cool features. The problem I have with the latest versions of Android is that all of the other phones out there are still on a version of Android 5.0. Many App Developers have not even updated their apps to work on Android 6.0. It actually took my bank four months to support it. I use Sony Cameras and it took them six months to support Android 6.0. This simply doesn’t happen on Apple’s iOS platform. Even NFC does not work with my Sony cameras on Android 6.0 which defeats the purpose and was one of the reasons I complained about the iPhone last summer.

I also enjoy using a Smartwatch. I have had the Apple Watch in the past. I have also had a variety of Android Wear Smartwatches. I even spent a few weeks with the Samsung Gear S2 which is on Samsung’s own Tizen platform. Each watch lacked something. The only consistent Android Wear Smartwatch out there is the Sony Smartwatch 3 however, it lacks many features I have come to rely upon in a Smartwatch.

Last night, I put away my Nexus 6P and moved over to an iPhone 6S Plus. I know, the very 6S Plus I said I would not take part in. Having spent so much time this last year chasing an Android Smartphone that would not give me any problems, I decided it was time to throw in the towel and come walking back into the familiar arms of Tim Cook.

I also realize what I have done over the past year. I have not only wasted a lot of time on phones, I have wasted money as well. I just want current technology that works. Though the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus do not contain much over their previous versions, they work and they work well. The phone is fast and it does not lag. iOS has better memory management because it doesn’t allow apps to run when they are not doing anything. Android has become better at memory management over the years but it still takes twice as much memory for Android to provide an equal experience. The manufacturers producing Android phones are not putting enough memory in their phones to make for a seamless experience. There is enough memory for a basic experience but if you install a lot of apps and plan to use them, you will eventually run into issues.

I am not back on the Apple bandwagon and I don’t think I really ever was completely. Since Android came out, I have deeply desired for an Android experience that was as seamless as Apple’s iOS. Android 5.0 came very close to that as Android phones started coming packed with decent cameras around that time. One could even argue that Android cameras trump the iPhone’s camera in certain aspects of performance. For me, what it comes down to, is performance. I run two businesses, have three kids ages five and under. I don’t have time for a phone that has to be finagled into working. I am tired of having to delete apps from my phone that are known to use up more memory so that the rest of my phone operates better. All these years later, I still find myself sacrificing in one way or another to be on Android, and that simply shouldn’t be the case.

Sure the current iPhone is pretty basic, but it works. The Apple Watch is kind of ugly, but it works well and iOS developers support it. I am ready to start ignoring some of the Android phones that come out and just exist on iOS. I’m not ditching Android. That will never happen. I just won’t be on such a search for the perfect Android phone, which will result in less worry about whether or not my phone is going to work when I need it to.

Who knows how the next month or two will go. My iPhone could start to give me issues as well, but for now, I am back on iPhone and plan to stay there for a while. For now, it’s about saving time and probably some money. Though the iPhone is almost mid cycle before the iPhone 7 will become available, I will save hours of time and even some money by not fretting over the perfect Android experience. Only time will tell if I will end up eating my words again. All I am trying to do is share my experience with others and try to relate on some level.

What do you think about the current state of Smartphones?

Blog Personal Development Technology

Squirrel!

I am easily distracted. There have been times I self-diagnosed ADD. The problem is that we live in a world with no shortage of distractions. There is more than just something for everybody, there are dozens of somethings.

To make it worse, I love technology. You and I both know that the tech world moves fast and there are always new bright/shiny things coming out every day. Adding to that, I want to touch and play with all of the new technology. Obviously, that is not practical because things are expensive.

When I was a kid, I would make lists of stuff I was going to buy when I had money. I grew up working on motors and racing go-karts. I remember making a list of motor parts I wanted to buy so I could build my own motor. A few years ago I bought a go-kart to drive for leisure. I realize now that I was living out my childhood dream of building a fast motor for my go-kart as an adult.

The last few years I have been analyzing, maybe over-analyzing the way I focus and what I focus on. This has led me to realize just how scattered my focus can be at times, hence the ADD self-diagnosis. Maybe it’s not ADD, it’s just that I focus heavily on things that I enjoy and it makes it hard for me to focus on other things when I am locked on to those thoughts. Now I am realizing that sounds a bit selfish, but that is the battle.

Just like most of us, my phone is a distraction. I spend too much time on it looking at things. I don’t scroll Facebook, but I scroll tech headlines and the tweets of people I follow in the technology space. That can be distracting.

The reason for thinking about this or even writing about it came about because I have realized in the last few months there have been a few instances where I had a thought I was working on, got distracted just for a second, and the entire thought was gone. I couldn’t even remember the topic of thought. It’s like it didn’t exist. Sometimes the thought would resurface later, but a few times it did not. Call it getting older or something…

The more I talk with people, I realize that most of this can be written off as a side effect of the human condition. We all get distracted in different ways. It’s hard to hyper-focus on something. To be honest, I am not sure hyper-focus is a good thing.

Even as I wrote this, I lost my train of thought once, was distracted by email twice and my phone three times. The struggle is real.

What are some of the things that distract you? What do you do to curb the distraction so you can get things done?

Blog Parenting Technology

Son Buys First Apple TV Show

Teaching kids about money

A few months back, I had a heart to heart with my son about how iTunes works on the Apple TV. This came after he had purchased a couple of $2.99 shows on the Apple TV without my permission. Apple does not make it easy to set parental controls on the Apple TV. If you enable parental controls, you have to use a four digit passcode for just about everything, even launching Netflix. We often let our kids select their own shows on Netflix because we have a kid-safe profile set up for them. I would have to give them the four digit passcode so they could get into their Netflix shows, but that would be the same passcode that would allow them to purchase shows. Kind of a lost cause.

Tonight, my son came across a show he really wanted to see. It was a Paw Patrol Christmas Episode. I explained to him that the show had a cost of $2.99. I said to him, “The show you want to watch is not free. It will cost us two dollars and ninety-nine cents to watch that show.” After explaining to him what I meant by “cents” by using play money in the toy room, he expressed an interest in paying for the show himself. I took the opportunity to turn this into a teachable moment.

My kids each have a piggy bank. It’s not in the shape of a piggy, it’s in the shape of R2D2, but we still call it that. When they earn money for going over and above what they are asked to do, or a task outside of their regular responsibilities was completed, we occasionally give them some change. We don’t compensate them for everything, we actually don’t compensate them very often at all. However, my son wanted to buy this show and was prepared to pay for it with his own money.

Teaching kids about money

He brought out his piggy bank and we counted the money he had. He had enough for the $2.99 show. I took some time to discuss what spending money on a show would leave him with. I explained that if he spent $2.99 on a show, the next time he was at a store with us, he might not have enough money to get something that he really wanted. His response was, “I don’t need anything, I just got a lot of new toys for Christmas. I can wait until my Birthday.” I explained to him that his birthday was six months away and that he would need to save up again if he wanted to buy something before his birthday. He was ok with it. He really wanted to buy that show.

We counted our $2.99 and set that aside. We then counted what was left. He had $2.08 remaining. I explained to him that he was about to use more than half of what he had in his piggy bank. He was still ok with his decision. I also explained that he would only get to buy one show, because he did not have enough to buy two shows and that this show was only 24 minutes long. He said, “It’s ok, I can watch it twice.” Smart kid.

I looked over at my wife, who had been listening to our conversation and confirmed that she was ok with the transaction that was about to take place. She nodded yes. I explained to him that I was going to buy the show for him and that I would take his $2.99 to pay for it. I explained to him that when we buy shows that cost money, that money is taken from Daddy and Mommy’s bank account just like we took money from his piggy bank to pay for the show.

We purchased the show and it started to load. I asked him if he wanted to play the show now and share it with his brother and sister, or save it for later when he could watch it alone. He said that he wanted his brother and sister to be able to watch it with him. I then told his brother and sister that they were going to get to watch a show that their brother paid for. They both said, “Thank you brother,” and they watched the show together.

After the show was over I asked my son if he thought the show was worth $2.99. He said that it was and that he would like to watch it again tomorrow.

It’s hard to teach kids about money these days. We live in a world where we just swipe a card to get immediate gratification. I want my children to grow up knowing that money is real and it’s a limited resource. It takes hard work to get it and even harder work to save it.

What are some money saving teaching moments you have had with your children? If you have a moment, please share them in the comment section below.

Blog Technology

How to Backup Your Facebook Photos Easy

A few weeks ago I decided to delete my Facebook profile. You can read about that here. What had kept me from deleting it even earlier was wanting to have a full backup of my photos on Facebook. I do a pretty good job of keeping photos backed up when I take them, but I am sure there are photos I uploaded directly to Facebook that were not backed up. I also would have liked to have a backup of all of the photos I was tagged in by others.

ODrive allows you to connect to Facebook from your computer and backup all of your photos quickly and easily. It’s so easy and fast, that I decided to put together a video showcasing the process for those of you who want to make sure you have a backup of your Facebook photos. Whether you want to move away from Facebook or just want to make sure the photos you have shared are backed up, ODrive makes it easy to do that.

Though ODrive allows you to download all of your photos from Facebook, they are not as high-resolution as they were when you uploaded them. They are however much higher resolution than if you used Facebook’s archive option which allows you to save a copy of your Facebook data. The photos they offer are small and almost unusable.

Download ODrive directly from their website: http://odrive.com

Blog Technology

I’m taking my life back from Facebook

I made a decision that I should have made a few years ago. I deleted my Facebook profile. I have wanted to do this many times before but could never pull the trigger. I logged out of Facebook a couple of times for an extended period, but I always ended up back there. You can read about that here.

Let me start by saying that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with Facebook. The fact that there is a service that lets us share our lives and stay connected easier is a pretty amazing thing. The problem is not with Facebook, it’s with much of the content within Facebook.

I can’t recall how long ago it was, but I realized that Facebook had started to become a place where people go to complain about stuff. Just about every post in my newsfeed was a complaint. I would go on Facebook to see what my friends were up to and I would end up depressed by the end of it. Either Facebook was only deciding to show me negative posts or those are the only posts that stuck out to me. Facebook has allowed people to complain about their lives rather than taking responsibility. It’s easy to post to Facebook in an attempt to get sympathy from our friends. It’s actually kind of sad and it doesn’t help anybody.

There has been a change in society during the past 5-6 years. People used to be able to share their opinion without being ran over for it. We used to be able to accept the fact that people had an opinion other than our own. That has changed. We can still share our opinion, but if it goes against anything the media is focusing on, it is best left unspoken. I realized that the bulk of the people I was connected to on Facebook cared more about trivial things than actual travesties. I tried to filter my Facebook newsfeed, but Facebook makes it a pain in the butt to customize the content that you prefer to see.

About two years ago I stopped accepting every friend request that came in. I realized that my newsfeed was so cluttered that I couldn’t see updates from people I was actually connected to. I tried creating custom newsfeeds, but that was a pain to manage. I was not going to go through 4924 friends at the time and manually clean house. To be honest, I even considered hiring someone to do it for me.

My frustration came to a boil last week when I realized I had been scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed for 30 minutes and my heart was racing because of the content I had just ingested. I felt like I had just spent the last 30 minutes reading all of the tabloid articles in the grocery store checkout. Just about every post was negative, disgusting, rude or a conflict against something I believe strongly about. During the time I had logged out of Facebook for two months, I was blogging more and able to read more books. I didn’t mindlessly go to Facebook, I intentionally picked up an actual book.

I had entertained the idea of converting my Facebook profile to a Facebook page for a while. A Facebook page is different than a profile. A Facebook page allows you to post updates just as you would a Facebook profile, but you have no newsfeed and people don’t friend your profile. It’s similar to Twitter in the way that people can decide to follow your updates by “liking” your page. Facebook used to allow you to do this conversion while keeping the history you have amassed in your timeline. That is not the case anymore and it was a bitter pill to swallow.

I have always recommended to all of my clients who want to start a Facebook page not to post unique content to Facebook that they hope to never lose. Facebook will most likely not always be the cool place to hang out. All of the content that people poured into Myspace is now worthless or gone in many cases. Depending on how you used Myspace, this may be a good thing. I have been posting to Facebook just shy of 10 years. I joined in 2006 when Facebook began allowing anybody to create an account. That is a low of content to allow to perish. Within the last 10 years, I started dating the woman I would marry. I got married and had children. Much has happened, and the majority of it was shared through Facebook.

Facebook allows you to backup your data. You can download it into this basic looking archive that you can click and scroll through (see mine here). It’s not very searchable but it’s better than nothing. I was able to backup all of my photos in case there were one or two that I had not saved somewhere else. I never take photos inside of the Facebook app so the majority of my photos were saved in Google Photos or iCloud Photos. I realized that I almost never scrolled back into history through my Facebook timeline anyway.

I needed a change. I was wasting a lot of time reading the nonsense that was being posted to Facebook in hopes of coming across something nice someone else had to say. I am afraid that I will miss things. I have been able to pray for people who are going through hard times because I read about it on Facebook. I would have never known about the situation outside of Facebook. My wife and I like to help people when we can and many times we have discovered a need through someone’s Facebook post. I will miss this, but it will make me actually reach out to people to stay connected rather than scroll Facebook in an attempt to get the highlights.

I converted my personal Facebook profile into a Facebook page. I did not want someone else to end up registering http://facebook.com/jeradhill to use it for their own purposes. I will continue to post to Facebook through this page. I converted a personal account that I had for managing Facebook pages before Facebook Business Manager was created so I could remain connected to the Ditch Auto photography group I created. I will not be adding any friends there. I am sure that this will not be a popular choice among many as the Facebook connection just became a one-way road, but I had to make the decision.

To keep connected with people who’s updates I would miss by not having a personal account, I will actually connect with them in person or follow their updates on other social networks such as Twitter or Instagram. I have had this intention many times, and I know it will be hard to do, but I am going to make an effort. Limiting the information intake will help me focus more on my family and my closer friends, who often get overlooked because they don’t post to Facebook that often.

Facebook is still an excellent tool for keeping in contact with people. As a business owner, it’s a fantastic marketing tool as well. This is why I am not leaving Facebook altogether, I am simply limiting the amount of content I consume so I can fill that extra time with what’s closest to me.

Instead, let’s follow each other on Instagram or Twitter.

Blog Technology

How to make your Apple TV load faster

How to make your Apple TV Load faster

I was an Apple TV early adopter back in the day when the Apple TV had an actual hard drive in it. With the latest version of the Apple TV, I have found that it takes a lot longer for movies and tv shows to start playing. It is often that a video will buffer for a while which interrupts our viewing. The Apple TV no longer has a hard drive inside for storing content. It has a small amount of storage that it uses as a buffer to keep your content playing smoothly. The problem these days is that movies and tv shows stream in HD and those HD files are quite large. On top of that, we have multiple devices that are connected to our Wifi network which makes the router work harder to transmit the signal the Apple TV needs to stream content uninterrupted.

Due to the layout of our previous home, it was easier to connect the Apple TV over Wifi. We could not get our cable internet modem or router close enough to the TV to connect the Apple TV by ethernet cable. About 6 months ago, we moved and I decided to place the cable modem and router behind the tv. We instantly had the same issues as before with buffering and the Apple TV becoming disconnected from the Wifi signal. This prompted me to just plug the Apple TV in directly to the router using an ethernet cable.

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