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CalendarAugust 28, 2014

Amazon Buys Twitch

Amazon Buys TwitchIt was inevitable. I just didn't think it would happen this way.

On August 26th, 2014, I received an email from my friends at Twitch saying the company had been acquired by another business. The fact that Twitch was bought out did not surprise me. But two things did – the company that acquired Twitch and the price they paid.

I thought for sure Google would buy Twitch. After all, Twitch's streaming service seemed like a perfect addition to YouTube. Many gamers already post their replays on YouTube, so being able to use the same account for Twitch streaming made a lot of sense. Plus, Google already has most of the infrastructure in place to support high-volume streaming, so it seems like the integration would have been relatively easy.

But Amazon now owns Twitch, not Google. Some have speculated that Amazon just wanted to "beat" Google with this acquisition, but I think it's is a great long-term business decision. It will give Amazon an excellent way to market to gamers and will undoubtably boost digital downloads in the future. Video game streaming is blowing up right now and more and more PC gamers are using Twitch on a regular basis. Now that the Twitch app is available for both the PS4 and Xbox One, just about anyone can stream their games online.

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CalendarAugust 23, 2014

Smart Shopping

Smart ShoppingSo you're walking down the aisle of your favorite clothing store when the band on your wrist beeps.

You glance down at your wrist and a small screen tells you to check out the blue shirt in the back of the store. You get out your phone and it displays a picture of the shirt. When you get to the back of the store, sure enough, there is the shirt in your size. You try on the shirt and it looks great. You bring it to the checkout counter and scan your wristband to pay for it.

How did your wristband know what shirt you would like? It received the information from the smartphone in your pocket, which in turn retrieved the data from the Internet. It turns out Google has been tracking your browsing and online shopping habits. The data stored on Google's servers was transferred to an app on your phone. When you walked into the store, an "iBeacon" detected your phone and sent you a recommendation from Google. It matched your personal profile with the available inventory in the store and guided you to the perfect shirt.

Next, you walk into a department store and a message on your wristband informs you of a sale on jeans. It guides you to the exact location of the jeans section and a few more recommendations pop up. But this time, it's not Google providing the suggestions, it's Facebook. You view the jeans on your phone and next to each one, it shows which of your friends have purchased the same or similar jeans. It also includes reviews of each one and orders them by the highest review. You try the highest reviewed option, and sure enough, the jeans fit perfectly. You bring the jeans to the checkout counter and scan your wristband to pay for them. The receipt pops up on your phone and you continue on your way.

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CalendarAugust 9, 2014

Life in a "Smart" World

Life in a Imagine this. You're at the grocery store and you receive a message on your smartphone saying you need milk. The text isn't from someone at home, it's from your refrigerator. It knows you are at the grocery store thanks to the GPS-enabled app on your phone. It knows you need milk since the shelf you usually put the milk on is empty.

As you walk through the produce section, your phone beeps to let you know the store has a 30% off coupon for apples. With a single tap, you download the coupon that you can scan when you check out. As you browse the cereal aisle, your scan a few UPCs with your phone. It recommends a few options, but tells you to avoid others since the ingredients don't fit your custom nutrition plan. It also shows the prices of each cereal box at four other stores nearby.

You walk out to the parking lot and your phone points you to the exact location of your car. You get to your car and with your hands full, you tell the car to open the trunk and it opens. After loading the groceries, the driver's side door pops open even before you even reach for the handle. You get in the car and tell it to go home. It pulls out of the parking spot and drives you home safely without you ever touching the steering wheel.

As your car pulls into your driveway, the front lights of your house turn on and your garage door opens automatically. After exiting your car, it locks behind you and the door from your garage to your house unlocks. When you open the door, the lights in the hallway fade on and you hear the air conditioning kick in. However, that sound is soon drowned by soft music that begins playing from your home speaker system.

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CalendarJuly 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day

USA Flag This Fourth of July holds special meaning for me this year, since I have been out of the country for awhile (hence the lack of updates in June). I flew back from Europe just in time to celebrate our nation's independence. While I'm happy to be back, I also enjoyed once again discovering the intricacies of other cultures.

People from the U.S. are known for saying, "We live in the greatest country in the world." I understand the sentiment because I love the USA. But what does it really mean to say, "the greatest country?" Is the U.S. better than all the other countries? Are the people in the U.S. smarter and kinder than people from everywhere else in the world? Is our land cleaner and our standard of living higher than all other nations? Is our government the model all other countries should follow?

I am proud to be an American, but I don't feel it's right to tell my friends in other countries that my country is better than theirs. We do a lot of things right here in the United States, but we're not perfect. Other countries actually do some things better than us. For example, the Scandinavian countries are cleaner and maintain an overall higher standard of living than the U.S. People in the southern European countries know how to enjoy life like no other place in the world. The people I met in Kenya have enormous joy with hardly any material possessions. The Peruvians I worked with are some of the most loving and selfless people I know. Members of Eastern countries like Japan and South Korea are the most humble and respectful people I have ever met.

I find myself truly blessed to have visited so many parts of the world and to have met so many amazing people. Traveling abroad has humbled me by broadening my perspective and allowing me to better understand other people and their cultures. It is also humbling to realize how much of the world I still haven't seen.

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CalendarMay 31, 2014

Review: Tempur-Pedic Cloud Luxe (2014) and Ergo Premier Adjustable Base

Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Cloud Luxe After ten years, my old Restonic spring mattress had run its course. I decided to upgrade to a much nicer (and much more expensive) memory foam bed. I tried a few different options, including Select Comfort's Sleep Number M series, Serta's iComfort line, and Tempur-Pedic's Cloud models. I eventually decided on Tempur-Pedic's TEMPUR-Cloud Luxe mattress ($3,699.00) and the Ergo Premier adjustable base ($1,999.00).

Total price – $5,698.00 before tax.

For someone who barely scrounged together $800 for my previous mattress and box spring combination ten years ago, $6,000 was a lot to pay for a bed. However, I hadn't been sleeping well for over a year and felt like it was worth it. Now that I've been sleeping on the new mattress for over a month, I can answer the obvious question – was it worth it?

The TEMPUR-Cloud Luxe Mattress

The "Luxe" bed is the softest model of Tempur-Pedic's Cloud mattress line. It's also the most expensive. I made a point not to look at prices when I tried different beds, but of course when I picked my favorite one, it was the most expensive option from the most expensive brand. The Tempur-Pedic mattresses are priced higher than the iComfort models, but you can feel the difference in quality. The Luxe mattress is extra soft, even compared to the other Tempur-Pedic mattresses. However, I also felt it had a unique feeling of balanced support that I didn't find in the other Tempur-Pedic models.

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