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CalendarAugust 9, 2014

Life in a "Smart" World

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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CalendarMay 24, 2014

EchoSign Makes Paperless Possible

Adobe EchoSign As a business owner, I find myself signing documents on a regular basis. It may seem like a simple process, but signing and returning documents is often a pretty big hassle. Here are the typical steps involved in signing a contract.

  1. Receive the contract as an email attachment
  2. Read through the contract
  3. Print the document
  4. Sign the document and fill in other required information
  5. Scan the signed document
  6. Save the document as a PDF with Adobe Acrobat
  7. Email the signed contract back to the sender

As you can see, simply signing a contract is anything but simple. If the other party needs to countersign the document, they need to go through the same process all over again. Sometimes when I receive countersigned documents, the text is hardly legible since it's been scanned multiple times. It's ridiculous.

For many years, I've thought there has to be an easier way to complete this process. I've also tried to make my business completely paperless, so I get frustrated each time I have to print, sign, and scan a contract. It wastes paper and time.

Thank goodness for Adobe EchoSign. I used EchoSign for the first time this past week and it was awesome. I received a link to the contract, which I reviewed in my web browser. The required fields were highlighted, so I just tabbed through them and filled in the necessary information. I signed my name in the signature box using my mouse (though of course you can also use a touchscreen).

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CalendarApril 29, 2014

iWatch – Who Needs It?

iWatch Concept by Gábor Balogh At the end of 2013, I predicted that Apple would not release the much anticipated "iWatch" this year. Since then, I've read numerous news articles and blogs with updates about the progress of Apple's futuristic wearable device. Earlier today, MacRumors published an article stating Apple has already started producing the iWatch in limited quantities.

The increasing frequency of iWatch rumors and updates suggest it is inevitable that Apple will release the iWatch later this year. But that doesn't mean it's going to happen. Why? For the same reason I mentioned before – nobody wants one.

I don't know anyone who knows anyone that wants an iWatch. Sure, there may be a few technophiles and Apple loyalists that would buy the iWatch just to have it, but that's not enough reason for Apple to develop one. Apple is very particular about the products it develops. The company makes sure their products will be usable and highly functional. That's why you don't see any awkward flipping, twisting, or separating laptop/tablet hybrids from Apple. They simply don't work well. I admire Apple for not going down that road just because all the other PC manufacturers did.

Several companies, such as Sony and Samsung have already released smartwatches and they have all failed miserably. Big surprise. Why do people need another screen on their wrist when their smartphone is only a few inches away in their pocket? Smartphones have taken the place of digital watches, so the main purpose of today's watch is to be an fashion accessory. That's fine, but it doesn't fit with a smart watch very well, even if the concept is intriguing (like the design above by Gábor Balogh).

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