After using the Nexus 6P for the past two weeks, I have a slightly different take and that's okay. This is the best Android phone to date. I think it's the best smartphone to date. There are no compromises. If ever a time for you to switch to Android, look no further than the Nexus 6P. It's fantastic.Read More
Made this video yesterday. I seem to be obsessing about two things as of late: Google & Connection so this stems from that. Just thought I'd throw it out there.Read More
And it's a shame.
I recently watched a fireside chat with Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital in which he discussed why Google should |be very afraid| of what Amazon has built, calling this dilemma a "funnel reversal."
"Well, what happened is over many years, Amazon has built up this logistics framework and their one click feature and their Prime program to the point where the consumer has zero anxiety about the quality of the product, immense trust about the deliverability, down to a day and a half for most people, less than a day for some items. They trust on price. That doesn't mean they are the absolute lowest price, but people don't think Amazon's trying to get 'em.Read More
How do we perpetuate the incredible experiences in life and minimize those that negatively impact us? How do we forge real relationships that propel us forward? How do we meet people that make us better? There is no way to completely ignore all the bad things that happen in life, but there must be a way to minimize them so that what we remember and reflect in times of adversity, confusion, or even just in solitude are those things that carry us forward. In this way, we cannot fail.Read More
Someone just asked me minutes ago, "So, is the new Nexus everything you'd hoped for?"
Here was my reply:
No. It's a disappointment to dreamers everywhere. Just as every product release from Apple, Samsung, Motorola, Sony, Microsoft, and every single other tech company since January 9, 2007 — the day Steve so proudly announced the first iPhone. Google should rise above. Over 2 million people around the world apply every year to work there. It is, no doubt, one of the meccas of innovation. Google employs thousands of some of the world's most brilliant, talented, and innovative people that have ever stepped foot on this planet. It's not an exaggeration, either. Yet year-after-year I'm disappointed. Lots of us are. It's because we learn every day what humans are capable of. We hear stories of what our neighbors, friends, and family are able to accomplish. We see them happen.Read More
I'm slowly but surely getting into timelapse photography. I tried it with my Go Pro Hero 4 and didn't like the quality and feel of the footage, so I'm experimenting with other tech to get the perfect look.
Here's a sample of a project I'm working on!
Just designed and built a new fly driveway entrance featuring 2 weeks of stonework, fence building, landscaping, and patience! Of course the stonework was the most tedious job. Happy its finished though and I think it really improves the marketability of the farm.
New life, new website. That's just how it is! Welcome to the new portfolio! Keep an eye out for a post that follows that whole "How Europe Changed Me" thing. It's coming in the next few weeks and it did change me, so check back for my thoughts on that.
In other news — I will be posting a new portfolio photograph each and every day over the next three months. One a day! That's it. Hope you like!
We still have smartphones with compromises. Why?
I’m oh so basic, so I’ll kick things off with that ringer of a quote on compromise by Mr. Carnegie, himself. THE argument is that no manufacturer can release a device that surely pleases everyone. You and I have different wants, needs, likes, and expectations and most of us differ in thinking about how our device should look, function, and cost. They mean different things to different people. Look around, though, and our differences really aren’t all that...different. We all want something that’s fast, sexy, works well, is easy to use, and has a nice camera. It’s really that simple. I’ve tried them all and I’m still unimpressed.
Furious litigation and enormous marketing budgets make the cutthroat competition in today’s mobile-first society pretty evident if you’ve been living in an isolation bubble and are completely unaware and lost in life. Capitalism and competition fuel the fire and promote this rise-up-the-rank mentality. This has set the stage for literally hundreds of underdog entrants into the smartphone and tablet markets, many of whom are stealing market share from the you know who’s of the world. It’s a trend that hasn't showed any signs of slowdown. Apple stealing from Blackberry. Samsung stealing from Apple. Huawei and ten other babies stealing from Samsung. It’s clearly fantastic for the consumer and I really don’t see many negatives for those of us who like choice. There’s a phone for camera enthusiasts. There’s an everyday all-rounder device. There is a device for those who prefer removable backs, expandable storage, and, of course, the venerable endurance champions of battery life. There is a manufacturer that focuses on design and materials. There’s a tablet that aims to have the best sound quality or a few devices that tout the highest resolution screens. There’s even a champion of screen-to-body ratios. Today’s device landscape is full of products that deserve praise and recommendation for the average joe. Lots of devices that fit lots of unique desires. What sucks is that in most cases, our devices are already good enough. Even among the gadget-loving elite, the consensus seems satisfied with the state of hardware innovation. I’m aware of this “good enough” mentality, but even I admit to falling for it. I love photography (though clearly not a pro) and after checking out blind camera comparisons for today’s most popular smartphones, I walk away thinking they all look rather similar and they all look pretty good to my eyes. We’re all caught in the trap of mediocrity. Things could be so much better.
Cut the bull. That Apple earnings call is all about how many iPhones and iPads were sold last quarter, will be sold next quarter, or what the next halo device will be. Google relies on competition among Android manufacturers to build devices that promote it’s own version of the web on mobile. In this way they hope to serve up “relevant information” and personalized ads to us across the entire spectrum of web services that we increasingly demand. That’s great; they’re the two largest forces behind the platform wars of today. Each ecosystem is wildly successful and brings in serious dough. But as I step back and think about things, what remarkable innovations have come directly from Apple, Google, or any of the other mobile manufacturers over the past few years from a hardware standpoint? For such a paradigm shift in the way we buy, sell, date, communicate, eat, sleep, and watch, I’m left disappointed when I look at the current landscape of devices. The apps, services, and software that run on these devices are a completely different story. The software, itself, has dramatically altered almost every aspect of our way of life. The hardware side seems stale in comparison. Each year I prep up for Apple’s iPhone unveilings and each year, I’m disappointed. Same goes for the big CES show in January. I keep track of the rumors leading up to the iconic “flagship” releases for Sony, HTC, Apple, Google, Motorola,etc. and I’m always underwhelmed. I sense similar sentiment from others in the tech community.
We’ve seen many advancements in interface, design, usability, materials, and features over the past few years. A fingerprint scanner here, a slightly improved camera sensor there, or even a thinner body or more scratch-resistant glass on the front. And, collectively, that’s pretty neat. Things are progressing, sure. But how does a company like Apple, with more than $150 billion in cash, end up with “#bendgate 2014?” Ask most iPhone 5 or 5s users what they wanted in the next iteration and the ability to NOT be tied to an outlet 24/7 is frequently at or near the top. So how does the design decision like that get ignored? The 6 could’ve been thinner than the 5s AND have had significantly better battery life. The almighty Google partners up with LG to build a fantastic device in the Nexus 5 in 2013. It had some compromises: mediocre camera, no removable battery, weak-ish speakers, but then again it was half the price of anything else. Fine. But then, Google, in all it’s greatness, creates the Nexus 6 for 2014 with a totally unoriginal design (essentially a giant 6-inch Moto X). Samsung, year after year, has built well-liked, feature-packed, class-leading devices with cheapo materials, creaky designs, and janky user experiences. HTC crafts a stunning piece of aluminum-unibody hardware in the One M-8, yet it throws a middling rear camera in. There’s this common theme of compromise every single year that totally frustrates me.
Sorry but... “If we can put a man on the moon”...
It’s like people either don't care enough or don’t notice. Things work well enough. Companies are not incentivized to build the best. These are small things, though. We’re not talking reusable space rockets or self-driving cars here. It doesn’t matter what team you root for, these companies have this immense power and opportunity to affect change in today’s society. Our entire world is going mobile. Companies like Apple, Google, and Motorola have all the resources at their disposal. It’s frustrating that preserving high margins remains more important than building the best product. After years of mediocre products, competition has forced everyone to step up their game. I think my expectations are justified and I should feel a little underwhelmed when such trivial omissions drag down otherwise excellent products. Maybe 2015 will be the year.
My sense of boundless adventure and perpetual curiosity was struck early on by cameras, lenses, and pixels. Photography has always been my getaway. Even surrounded by complete and utter chaos — in that moment — my life is zen. As for design, it’s total amateur hour. I like messing around in Photoshop and Illustrator but it's all for fun. I’m glued to the evolution of print, mobile, and web design and I love thinking about how to improve user interaction/user experiences. I love fonts, filters, layers, effects, shapes, shadows, and lines. Really, there’s nothing cooler than getting lost in the tuning and refinement of it all. Perfectionism at its finest, I legitimately spend hours tweaking every slider, every parameter, and every pixel until I have something legit. It's insane how laser-focused and patient I can be when I'm doing things I love. Similarly, I get huge satisfaction from woodworking projects, furniture building and stone masonry. I learn best by doing. Occasionally I create something cool, but usually I'm just out to explore.
If I'm not playing beach volleyball in my spare time, I'm probably getting lost online:
(in no particular order)
...and the list goes on...I'm effortlessly hipster.
It's an addiction, I know. I love hearing about what's new. I CAN'T NOT DO IT.
Dreamers vs. doers. I always wonder what the medium ground is here. Where do we find balance? What about those of us who are sort of stuck in the middle? What if we dream of being a doer, but can't seem to set things in action? What if we've already done, but feel we haven't done enough? What's the cut off for something real and relevant? How does a dreamer become a doer? Do all dreamers become doers? And do all doers still have time to dream with all their doing? Some of us are too impatient to "waste" time dreaming and yet some of us "waste" all our time dreaming and never do. Like anything, I suppose it's all about finding the magic point of equilibrium and the right balance: where we maximize action and minimize the passing (waste) of time. But then, what about time? Do we really want to minimize the time we spend on something? Books take more time than blog posts, but I rarely, if ever, find myself lost in a blog post to the point of feeling the narrative (if even worthwhile). Books push me to think more critically and play with my emotions. Emotional stimulation, for me, creates stronger impact at the end of the day. But if it's a blog post about something I'm passionate and truly curious about, that emotional impact can be even stronger if digested more quickly. A bit of a stretch, but you get the idea. Which brings me to impact.
I've learned that 99.8% of people spend their entire day 100% numb to the world around them. We like to imagine this future of robots, self-driving cars, and AI. Guess what? The world is already filled with robots. Creatures who do their jobs, don't think in terms of opportunity costs or maximizing their impact, value, or time in this world. They're happy getting "Job A" done if that means a steady paycheck or the ability to move on to "Job B." They're not motivated by something else. They rarely believe in their ideas. They aren't pushed to think outside the box. They are fine being trapped in a culture of stagnancy if that stagnancy means steadiness. They don't want to surround themselves with visionaries and innovators because that would waste too much time or maybe it's too unrealistic. It would take longer for them to finish "Job A" and have the chance to start "Job B." I realized this isn't me — at least, not right now. I want job security, but I want to dream. I want to create and learn. I want to have an impact and I have no idea how, why, what, or when to do it. There has to be something more satisfying to gain from life. Sometimes taking a break from "Job A" to dream up "Task F" inspires the real progress later on. I just know that I'm not one of these robots. Who knows, maybe I'm part of another robot army I've yet to discover. Maybe there's a whole set of people I just haven't found yet. People who thrive on progress, innovation, and are driven by technology. But still, when I'm interviewing for a job, I never have the chance or the time to show this side of myself. Fifty thousand applicants applying for one position means we concentrate on only the most efficient or the highest quality. It's a number, a G.P.A., an accolade. What does this mean for all the people in the world who just haven't discovered their best talent, just haven't met the right person yet, aren't adept at marketing, haven't had "their break" or, maybe, can't find a way to broadcast their message effectively? They're fucked. Some go through life and never think about these questions. Maybe I'm too focused on this stuff. But how could I not think about it? When you're lucky enough to connect with people who really get you, the weight is lifted and anything is possible. I've felt it more and more lately and this feeling of being understood is powerful. I feel more enabled than ever. And I'd like to imagine that this is how we make progress and how ideas turn into reality. The dreamer vs. doer conflict is everywhere —our jobs, our relationships, ourselves, and yes, even love.
I'm hoping I meet more people who think about these things. People who understand that, in the end, it's all about what motivates people. I've read a lot of bios, stalked a lot of profiles, and studied lots of stories and from what I can tell, those who are motivated by the good things in life seem to be infinitely more happy. I won't ever feel accomplished by making a ton of money. Well...wait a sec, I wont go thattttt far. But THAT isn't what drives me. What motivates me is meeting genuine people, having engaging conversations, and discovering how curiosity and passion leads to innovation. These are all just words, though. I better get out there and build something or I'm "wasting my time" looking instead of creating. Dreaming instead of doing. Connect with me and tell me about your failures, your processes, and your stories. I want to hear how you made things happen.
Nothing more cliche than starting with a cliche. I just have no idea what to say, how to say it, and I clearly don’t need to explain myself here (and I’m already getting wordy), but I’m not really a writer. Is that even a cliche? Shit, I forgot the squiggly thing on the word. Wait, it’s a line, not a squiggle — I think.
I’m a few months away from really changing up my life. I’m 24, and believe me, it’s exciting. Exciting refers to the “changing up my life” part, not fact that I’m 24. I’ve always been a planner and a thinker. I’ve lived my life carefully, conservatively, and, dare I say, hesitantly. That sounds depressing, but it’s not. The little bit of pause always allows me just a few extra seconds of thought before I act or react. It’s good and bad. Good because I’m generally aware of most angles of a situation and bad because, on occasion, I just don’t act.
It’s like when you’re standing in line (assuming you leave your house (I really don’t)) and you catch eye contact with the interesting character in front of you. He’s glancing right back and you share a second of eye contact and connection. In fact, he’s sooo interesting that he cares enough to hear what you have to say. I know, this is getting intense, isn’t it?!? After a brief pause in contemplation, in this weird and adrenalynyyy way, you look the opposite direction as if there’s something worth diverting your attention to and then…
Ya just swallow your words.
I hate that feeling. He could’ve changed your life. Maybe by NOT speaking to him, he just did. Had you taken just a little initiative and risk to inquire about him in some way, you’d know for certain. I’m willing to bet that more often than not, we should all be speaking to that stranger in life. The simple “hi” is daunting for even the most outgoing of personalities. I’m somewhere in the middle of the introvert/extrovert spectrum, but screw it, I’m saying hi next time. For real.
The allure of getting to know YOU and hearing what YOU have to say is just too strong to ignore and regret. I have no idea what I can offer you or what you can offer me, but I bet it’s worth something to one of us.
Gah, that’s so deep. Preach.
It’s scary starting this blog and worrying about whether I’ll have enough content — interesting/exciting/worthwhile content. Those worries (and the lack of confidence in my writing and grammar skillz) have prevented me from taking this step sooner. Hey, at the very least, I suppose I could just record occurrences of me saying “hi” to strangers and publish the interactions that follow. I’m such a visionary. That just might work.
To sum it all up, welcome. Be part of my adventure and don’t take me too seriously. I dont. Strong brows give me this intense look. I’m really just thinking about puppies, nerding out to some tech blog, or maybe the intensity IS justified and I happen to be working up the courage to say “hi” to you.
Wow, I’m just surprised you made it this far! Was a real doozy, ay? Lucky for you, I’ve already anticipated your next thought: Why the blog, Robert? Valid question, my new friend! I’ve always been passionate about technology and innovation. I’m emotionally invested in this stuff. I joined several “think tanks” throughout college and was part of countless entrepreneurial efforts along the way. I contributed my expertise and became an absorbent learning sponge with a venture capital firm that analyzed the feasibility and returns of startups, and, as a young chap, I started a business to sell my photography — yet somehow, my message has been lost in translation. Hmm… message? Yeah, I just haven't done enough. Let me explain.
It struck me a few months ago. I have this insatiable itch. It’s a desire to do, to contribute, to learn, to make stuff happen — to make a direct impact. I guess I never allowed my voice to be heard. For the past several years, the mic was muted. I’ve had this passion all along and, yet, feel like I haven’t taken full advantage of it. It’s here that I will break free and, at the very least, get my thoughts out on paper. From current events in technology to the state of innovation, I’ll try to keep it fresh. Oh and if that bores you, check out my photography, design projects, and other — often laughable — creative endeavors. I’m curious to hear your story and to learn from you, so reach out to me. Call me up. Chat me. Add me. Let’s connect. The world is my playground at this point. I want an adventure.