I am a contrarian, or so it seems.

I am a contrarian…. That’s what a good friend just told me.  Why? Well, according to him because:

• I use an Android phone and Tablet. LG and Samsung are good, Lenovo is garbage. I actually got a Nexus 4, a Chromecast and a Nexus 5X the day they were announced. That apparently also makes me an “early adopter.”

Google Nexus 5X

• I purchased a 60D the week AFTER the 5D Mark III was made available and shot for several years with a 7D. I also used (and publicly highlighted) the  Panasonic Lumix GH3 WAY before the GH4 was hot (which I also added to my arsenal). I don’t have a Blackmagic camera, mostly because I love shooting with the Canon C100.

• I have been using Adobe Premiere Pro well before Apple released Final Cut X, and before David Fincher made the Creative Cloud cool.

• I dropped my monthly “all you can talk” cell plan for a “prepaid plan.” It has been saving me at least $1,200 per year. I haven’t used Skype for years, Google Hangouts is the way to go.

• I choose not to own a lot of gear. I believe renting equipment is the best way to provide clients with the best tools for each job, and it also helps to keep my overhead low.

And the cherry on top? We are seriously considering getting an HP workstation for video editing (yes, a PC computer) instead of new iMac or even a Mac Pro.

Well, perhaps my buddy is right….I am a contrarian!

Lego Lucius Malfoy with Cape Wand

But here’s the thing, as a technology consultant I spend a lot of time thinking about what will come next in terms of trends and features. I bet on Adobe Premiere Pro about a year before the flood gates opened. I also have the privilege to see many products, hardware and software, as prototypes or in their beta phases, so even though I generally can’t talk about them, I can wait until they are commercially available or I can get something cheaper temporarily.

LEGO Minifigure Collection Series 4 : Sailor

But perhaps the main reason to be a “contrarian” is that I don’t really care about the name of the brand. What I do care about is performance, reliability, and support. The faster I work, the more time I have to build my business, and the more discretionary time I get to enjoy life offline, and out of the office.

I’m obviously not the only one, check this Fast Company article “5 Contrarian Lessons From Successful Entrepreneurs” and David Ogilvy’s (one of my heroes) “Contrarian Management Advice.”


How NOT to announce new products. Google Nexus.

UPDATE: 20121123 Google’s Nexus 4 Smartphone and Nexus 10 Tablet sold out 20 minutes after the Google Play store opened.

By now it is pretty clear that we love Google (most of the time). But the company can learn a thing or two from Apple, especially when it comes to important product announcements. On Monday, while Hurricane Sandy was hitting the East Coast ,and 7.5 million people in 16 states have lost power, Apple announced that the company’s senior vice president of iOS was getting fired for (apparently) refusing to apologize publicly for the Apple Maps mess. The timing was impeccable, since nobody noticed nor cared. Well, at the very same time, Google was announcing three new Nexus devices; a smartphone, a 7-inch tablet, and a 10-inch tablet. Guess what happened? Nobody noticed nor cared. They sold out.

All three devices run Android 4.2, which Google describes as “a new flavor of Jelly Bean.” The Nexus 4 is Google’s latest 4.7-inch, quad-core Nexus smartphone, developed with LG, and priced well below analysts expectations. It will be available for $299 (8GB) and $349 (16GB) for unlocked, contract-free units. However, the best deal seems to be the 16GB unit on T-Mobile for $199. We can’t really predict how sales will perform, but what is certain is that the Nexus 4 will make a strong impact on the smartphone market.

Based on the promo video, it seems that Google is focusing the tablets on education. We have written extensively about technology and education here, here, and here.

Although we are more excited with Samsung’s Galaxy Camera, one of our favorite features of the new Nexus smartphone is Photo Sphere, a camera app/Google Maps hybrid that allows users to create and share 360-degree panoramas.

Click to keep reading  (more…)


Are tablets making us better? Yes and no.

IdeaPad vs. Kindle Fire vs. iPad

This is my last post about my Lenovo Tablet nightmare experience. Six months ago (check the original post here) I made a wish list of all the wonderful things I wanted to get done with my brand new Tablet. Here’s the update:

What did I plan to achieve with my new toy?

1. Read more eBooks with­out burn­ing my legs while try­ing to fall asleep.
Accomplished. Not only do I not have to deal with the heat and weight of my MacBook Pro, but since I can’t type as fast on the Tablet, I don’t spend much time checking and replying to emails or working on other things. I effectively have doubled my annual reading average.

2. Update this blog from any cof­fee shop, read while com­mut­ing, work on a plane.
50/50. The Tablet is not comfortable for typing long articles like this one, and the apps are relatively slow. But reading on planes (or buses, or the subway) is absolutely wonderful. By the way, seven inches is the PERFECT size for a Tablet—big enough to read, small and light enough to hold it with only one hand.

3. Watch more movies, and use Google Music.
Accomplished. The movie quality is not great but it does the trick, especially while waiting for a delayed plane at the airport. You can set Google Music to download selected songs so you don’t need to be online to enjoy the app. Awesome.

4. Use sev­eral film­mak­ing tools includ­ing a Director’s Viewfinder, and Slate.
Not accomplished. Bright sunlight is like kryptonite to the Tablet. Plus, both cameras on the IdeaPad A1 are SO bad that compared to my two-year old HTC cell phone (add link to serendipity search results) it is like a medium format back compared to a point and shoot.



Lenovo sucks.

Some of you may remember our hugely popular post “7 reasons not to buy the Kindle Fire” where we listed all the things we wanted to achieve with a new Lenovo tablet. Well, it’s been six months and it seems like a good time to review what has happened.

First things first. Lenovo sucks. That’s the nicest way I can start this article before I get R-rated. What started off as a little experiment turned into one of the most frustrating and time consuming purchasing experiences I’ve ever had. Since I received the Lenovo Ideapad A1 the GPS didn’t work and the Micro SD card became disconnected every so often. Sometimes I would lose Wi-Fi connectivity, and every now and then the tablet would restart magically—but overall it was working.

Two months ago the Micro SD card died. Since it was the brand new Amazon brand, I thought it could be a defective card. Getting a replacement from Amazon was a breeze. The tablet was able to read the card again and I assumed the problem was over. It was, for about two weeks.

After wasting more time than I should admit formatting the card and trying every trick in the book, I called Lenovo. After almost one hour of speaking with different tech support employees in India and being transferred several times to even more clueless and helpless agents (a process that became the standard), I was given a repair ticket.

I was to send the tablet to Texas (I had to pay one-way shipping) and they would fix it in approximately seven days. The problem? The only app that was working was the Kindle Reader, and I was reading like never before (read my recent post about how I’m reading almost twice as many books now). I was hooked.

It was the perfect catch-22. One great app was working, I was still able to check email and news, but all the other apps that I needed to work like Evernote, Google Docs, PDF Reader, and Dropbox required an SD Card. I called again. Would a firmware update fix the issue? “Maybe,” I was told an hour later. Would they keep all the apps I had purchased and installed? “We don’t know.” was the very helpful answer.

Lenovo Repair sucks

Then I ran into another problem. The tablet would not update its own firmware. I tried everything: changing the tablet’s settings, connecting to my MacBook Pro, installing the firmware tethered to a Windows XP tower, connecting a laptop running Windows Vista, nothing.

So, I gave up and sent it in for repair. Two weeks later, I followed up. They had received it, but they were waiting for some parts. An hour later I was told that the parts would arrive in approximately SIX WEEKS. So let me get this straight. I get a lemon, send it in for repair, have to pay for shipping and have to wait two months? I’ll make the rest of the story short. I was finally able to escalate my case to someone at “Customer Advocate/Customer Complaint Resolutions/Customer Satisfaction Programs” (I am dead serious, this is her title). After three or four phone calls and nine emails she finally gave up and sent me a new Tablet, which I received last week. How long before it breaks? I’ll keep you posted.