The Ultimate 2020 Stocking Stuffer

2020 has sucked for the most part. There’s no other way to say it. However, I feel that better days are on the horizon. With that said, people look to me for holiday gadget recommendations, and quite frankly I haven’t really been in the mood to flaunt gear with so many people out of work and struggling due to the pandemic. So this year, I’m going to keep the list short and relatively low cost.

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Why my downgrade to a Tesla Model 3 was an upgrade

Last year I did a post called: Is it finally time to get an electric vehicle? Answer these 5 questions to see. At the time I was driving my first electric vehicle (EV), a 2017 Tesla Model S. Just to be clear and upfront, I LOVED MY TESLA MODEL S! However, what most don’t know is that it wasn’t my first choice. Let me give you a little history about my decision to get a Tesla and how I first ended up with a Model S:

In 2016 I had made the decision to go electric. I had asked at least 1.3 million questions to my buddy Scott Kelby and Erik Kuna (both had been driving Tesla’s for years). I had heard that Tesla was introducing a new more cost-effective Model 3. When they announced it, I put my $1,000 deposit down on day two.

the thank you note from Elon Musk for those that pre-ordered the 1st Model 3

Yes, a deposit on a car that no one had really seen outside of Tesla and the press. I was convinced that this was going to be the car for me. The lease on my current car was going to be up September 2017 and I figured I’d have it by then. However, as a month went by and the demand for the Model 3 was through the roof, it was clear that Tesla was going to need more time to deliver Model 3’s. I made the decision to CANCEL my Model 3 order and get my full refund. I couldn’t take not knowing if my car would arrive in time. When July 2017 rolled around, I went to Tesla.com and placed an order for a 2017 Tesla Model S. This would be the most expensive car I had ever driven. I was used to driving luxury brands, but never one that cost about $20K more than my average car price. I also decided to lease it so that if I wasn’t happy, it would be easy to walk away from. Turns out it was the best car I had ever driven and I was forever converted over to EVs.

Three years later, my Model S lease ended

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Tesla Cybertruck – Does Design Still Matter?

The car we all drew in the 1st grade?

Spoiler alert! The answer is YES design still matters. On Wednesday, November 20th Tesla unveiled its long-awaited electric pickup truck. The Cybertruck shocked everyone. It was the first time that I heard so many people use the word “ugly” in reference to a Tesla vehicle. It was my reaction too.

For the record, I have never had any interest in a pickup truck. I’ve never wanted one ever. I still don’t. I’ve driven pickup trucks owned by family and friends when I needed to move stuff, but that’s about it. I would borrow theirs and return it. I wouldn’t think twice about it afterward.

Knowing that Tesla was going to unveil their new electric pickup was only a little interesting to me. I was only interested to see what it would look like. The unveiling was to start at 8 PM PT/11 PM ET. By 11 PM I was already in bed and falling asleep. However, I was awake enough to see the less than one-minute countdown before it started. I waited and just as I suspected it didn’t start on time. I dozed off. When I woke up and looked at my phone again the NEW Cybertruck was on stage. My immediate reaction was OMG WTF? (not in a good way). I turned my phone off and rolled over to go back to sleep. This thing looked awful and I wasn’t going to waste any more time watching.

Sidenote: The unveiling was kind of a disaster?

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The Best Wacom Intuos Pro Small to Date!

Wacom Intuos Pro Small

I’ve had several Wacom tablets over the years. I use them almost exclusively when I retouch photos and if I ever dabble in creating art. I love my 27″ Cintiq QHD display tablet. However, when I need to take a tablet with me on the go I’ve always preferred carrying a Wacom Intuos Pro Small. With that said, I stopped carrying my previous version. While it was “small” it was still bulky enough to take up more space and weight in my bag than I wanted. My backpack is always heavy. I decided to remove some things to lighten the load. Every ounce matters. I figured I could just use my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil as a tablet if I really needed to. While this solution did work, it just wasn’t the same as a Wacom graphics tablet. Wacom has been refining their pen/tablet technology for years! The newer tablets have a pen that offers 8,192 levels of pressure. This level of precision is amazing. The pen also has configurable buttons on the side and the top can be used as an eraser. Apple Pencil is great, but it just can’t do as many things as you can with a Wacom pen.

The NEW Wacom Intuos Pro Small makes its way back into my life and my backpack!

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SliceCharge Pro – the wireless charger you’ve been waiting for

Apple’s AirPower was supposed to be the only wireless charger you would need. One charging mat that lets you charge an iPhone (or Android), Apple Watch and AirPods. Apple decided to cancel the AirPower before it ever shipped. They sited quality/technical difficulties. I can only imagine that this was because you would have been able to put your phone, watch or AirPods anywhere on the mat. Since the Apple Watch doesn’t use a standard Qi charger I’m sure it was hard to make it work when placed anywhere on the mat.

There are lots of Qi wireless chargers on the market. Some are designed just to charge a phone while other bigger mats are designed to charge two to three devices. I originally went with the Nomad Wireless Charger as it was one of the first to have an integrated Apple Watch charger. The Nomad solution works fine, but what I didn’t like about it was that it was one configuration. You lay your phone on it either vertically or horizontally and you put your watch on the dedicated spot. If you want to charge a third device then you put the phone vertically in the middle. What I don’t like about this is that you have to put the phone on it just right (not to far forward and not too far towards the front) or it won’t be on one of the three charging coils and therefore it won’t charge. I have woke up on occasion only to realize that my phone didn’t charge because it wasn’t sitting on it just right.

SliceCharge Pro offers six high speed charging coils instead of three or four

inside view of the 6 total charging coils

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It’s a wallet, not tech

Although my old wallet wasn’t quite a “Costanza Wallet” it was thick enough to be noticed by my buddy Larry Becker. We trade tech recommendations all the time and while this had nothing to with tech, it’s hands down the best wallet I’ve ever had. It’s actually quite a simple concept. Instead of trying to consolidate everything into a smaller footprint, The Big Skinny wallet spreads things out a bit so that the same contents can be, well skinny in your pocket.

The Big Skinny is the best wallet I’ve ever had!

I stopped carrying my wallet in my back pocket years ago because I was sitting lopsided. Also, it’s less of a pickpocket opportunity. Moving it to my front pocket was more comfortable and as you might imagine caused an unnecessary bulge.

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Tesla takes a step forward towards self-driving cars – Smart Summon Review

It’s definitely an amazing time that we live in. While we’re still probably a few years out from being able to climb in the back seat and nap while your car drives you safely to your destination, Tesla has definitely been moving us closer and closer to that goal. In the latest Over-the-Air software update (v10), Tesla delivered the long-awaited Smart Summon feature.

See me demonstrate it here with a 2018 Tesla Model 3

Smart Summon allows a Tesla owner with either Enhanced Autopilot or Full Self Driving options to remotely summon their car in a parking lot from up to 150 feet away. The car will figure out how to leave its parking space and navigate its way to the owner.

The owner can either simply hold down the “Come to Me” button on the screen in the Tesla App or go into the Summon feature and plot a point on the map for the car to drive to.

It’s amazing to see Smart Summon in action and I can’t wait to see what comes next. If you’re interested in getting a Tesla, you can get FREE Supercharging by ordering with my link here.

Is it finally time to get an electric vehicle? Answer these 5 questions to see:

I made up my mind that it was time for me to get one back in 2016. Although I still had a year left on my current lease, I knew that my next car would be an EV (electric vehicle). I watched every video that I could find. I read countless blogs and articles, and I asked my EV driving friends every question that I could think of. Most of these questions consisted of “what if” scenarios because of the infamous human condition known as “range anxiety.” More on that later. I did my research, and in the late summer of 2017, I placed my order for a new EV.

Although there are several EVs on the market (more now than back then), I went with Tesla, an American made EV. I originally wanted the NEW Tesla Model 3 that had just been introduced (early 2016). It was initially projected to be delivered in a year, and I figured if I placed my order right then in 2016, it would be ready by the time my lease was up. About a month or two went by, and I had already succumbed to my fear and anxiety that it wouldn’t be built in time. There was just no guarantee that Tesla would be able to deliver my Model 3 by the fall of 2017. They had hundreds of thousands of pre-orders, and producing a new vehicle from scratch isn’t easy. I just couldn’t take it, and I canceled my order. I got my $1,000 deposit refunded and decided that if I were really going to do this, I would get the Model S instead. After all the Model S had been around since 2012 and it was proven to be a great car. It would be the most expensive car that I ever bought (leased). I wasn’t thrilled about the price, but I was excited about everything else. When I placed my order in late summer 2017, I just couldn’t stop smiling. This was it! I was finally getting the car that I had wanted for over a year. My “dream” car was delivered on time (if not a week early), and it was love at first sight. I could NEVER go back to an ICE (internal combustion engine) Vehicle. 

It was everything that I dreamed it would be.

It was quiet. It was fast. It was full of tech. The 17” touch screen was amazing. It handled like a dream. Best of all, I would never need to buy gas again. About a week before taking delivery, I had my electrician install a 240V (NEMA 14-50, same plug you would use for an electric oven) plug in my garage. While you can charge an EV even with a standard 120V household outlet, it’s much faster and more energy efficient to charge at 240V. The car comes with a Mobile Connector (charger) and at the time with the necessary adapters to plug into a 120V or a 240V NEMA 14-50 plug.

Although I had this NEMA 14-50 plug installed initially, I later upgraded to Tesla’s (optional) dedicated High Powered Wall Connectors (HPWC)

I got home, and it was the first thing I tested. I wanted to make sure that I’d be able to charge my car without any issues. It worked perfectly. It was really at this moment that I would be spoiled for life. Waking up to a full charge every day and never going to a gas station again is life changing. 

Let’s answer the question: Is it finally time to get an electric vehicle?

The short answer for the vast majority of you reading this post is YES. I won’t try to BS you and say that EVs are for everyone. They aren’t (yet). I also don’t have any hidden agenda about this. I don’t get paid by Tesla or any other EV manufacturer. I just want to educate those that are interested. Don’t bother telling why it’s not for you. You have your reasons, and that’s fine. 

Most of the people driving cars today would definitely benefit from going with an EV. They are cheaper to operate and maintain. Like I said though, they aren’t for everyone and depending upon your situation, it might not yet be the right move for you at this time. So let’s go through the usual questions/objections and figure it out. There are really five questions that will help you decide:

1. What’s your daily commute look like?

By the way, stop and go traffic doesn’t negatively affect your range in any significant way.

Most EVs sold today have a range of 200-370 miles on a single charge. If you have a round trip commute each day of less than that, then you’re probably a candidate for an EV. Even if your commute is longer than that, but you have a charger friendly workplace/school, then it’s still a probability that you can drive an EV. The average daily commute in the US is 16 miles each way. That’s 32 miles just back and forth to work. Add the occasional errands during the day, and it’s probably still easily under 100 miles a day. This means that the average US commuter could charge at home or at work once a day or as needed and never need to charge anywhere else unless they were going on a long road trip.

2. Can you afford it?

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Use your AirPods with ANY Device – AirFly Review

I love my Apple AirPods on a level you can’t imagine. They are not perfect, but they are absolutely the best wireless earbud solution I have ever tried. While I love my AirPods there are times when I wish I could use them with a device that doesn’t have bluetooth. For example, the in-flight system on planes requires a wired connection. The same goes for gym equipment if you want to watch any of the TV’s that are broadcasting.

AirFly to the rescue

The good folks over at Twelve South have created a great solution. It’s called AirFly. I picked one up in the airport right before a flight. I was happy that it came pre-charged. The cashier even helped to get it paired with my AirPods while I was paying for them.

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2018 MacBook Pro Review – 39 Days Later

It was a surprise low-key announcement by Apple. An upgrade to the MacBook Pro line. I wasn’t expecting it as everyone was telling me not to expect a MacBook Pro capable of supporting 32GB of RAM until 2019. Perhaps when Apple starts using their own processors instead of Intel. I was just as surprised as the rest of the world. I was also happy that the wait was over. I had been holding out going to a new MacBook Pro for years. I was still using my work Mid-2014 MacBook Pro 15″. At work we are allowed to upgrade computers every 3 years and unfortunately for me that was in 2017. Instead of going with a 2017 MacBook Pro (which wasn’t much better than the 2016 MacBook Pro), I opted to go with a 27″ iMac instead. Most of my day-to-day work and live streaming is done from my home office these days. I don’t do roadshows and tours like I used to. Therefore a nice fast desktop Mac was the way to go.

The reason I skipped the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pros

In 2016 Apple made the radical decision to redesign the MacBook Pro. In the process they did away with all the traditional ports and instead went with 4 Thunderbolt 3/USB C type ports. At the time this was painful for most users because it meant buying an adapter for every single peripheral that you wanted to connect. I was still intrigued until I talked with others that had the new one. The feedback was pretty consistent. I didn’t find a single friend/colleague that raved about the new 2016 MacBook Pro. Everyone I asked “so how is it?” the response was pretty much the same “it’s OK. It’s not really any faster than my previous model.” This coupled with having to buy a bunch of dongles and adapters AND still being limited to 16GB of RAM meant a pass from me. Apple upgraded the MacBook Pro again in 2017 moving to a faster Kaby Lake processor, but that was about it. It was still limited to 16GB of RAM and no significant speed benefit. There was also the problem with the design of the keyboard. I remember the day one of my colleagues sat down next to me and started working/typing on his 2016 MacBook Pro and the clicking/clacking was so loud that I wanted to scream. This coupled with the high number of people reporting keyboard failures meant another pass in 2017 and going with the 27″ iMac instead as I didn’t want to be stuck for another 3 years on 16GB of RAM.

Why the 2018 MacBook Pro?

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