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Week One: Apple Watch… and Amazon Echo

For the last few days I’ve been walking around the house talking to the walls expecting things to happen. This is what one does when they own devices that “listen” for commands.

The Apple Watch has been fun, and definitely a keeper. I’ve set timers, reminders, replied to texts with dictation, sent calls to voicemail, all without looking for my phone. It has added a level of simplicity to my high-tech life. Only two complaints:

  • The Milanese band continues to catch my long hair. Considering it’s a feminine design, the likelihood of it bothering more users is high. If your hair is short (say two inches past your shoulders or shorter), you will be fine. But long hair will get caught throughout the day.
  • You will notice notifications more often than you do without the watch. Makes no sense? Think of it this way: One rarely holds on to their phone all day long. You put in down, pop it into a purse or onto a table, leave it in another room… all these moments give you wee bits of quiet that the watch will not. A great example is when Simon and I went to the new Avengers movie. I put my phone on vibrate and kept it in my purse. Normally I wouldn’t know what was going on until after the movie. But with the watch, I’d still get notifications (like texts and calls) that lit up my wrist. I turned on Do Not Disturb mode to fix it during the movie, but throughout the day I see more of what I normally wait to check at purposeful times. It’s more distracting that you think. Again… for must-need quiet times use the Do Not Disturb mode.

The Amazon Echo is placed between our kitchen and family room. Perfect location really. We’ve used it to hear the news, weather, wikipedia information, and listen to various Amazon Prime Music Playlists. Regarding the music, it’s actually quiet fun. We were joking about our dog and I said “Amazon, play Who Let The Dog Out”… and within a few seconds the song was playing on the Echo. Echo can use your Amazon Prime account, as well as many other music accounts (like Pandora). Very cool. Shopping lists are also a fun feature, and they recently released an upgrade to work with IFTTT. I haven’t tried that yet, but will. I can see Echo fitting in nicely with home automation.

From a quality perspective, the Echo needs better error handling. If it doesn’t have a program to support your question/request the response it too generic. Simon asked for a stock price and Echo doesn’t support that. Odd, considering it’s been a stock application on all smartphones for five-plus years. Better testing would have both determined a needed feature, and a better UI response that addressed the lack of functionality. Quality is more than not having software defects, it’s also meeting and managing user expectations of said quality. Echo has failed here.

Nonetheless, these are two fun and somewhat useful purchases. If you are either a tech-geek, or have some disposable income, I recommend them. I’ll follow up in another few weeks on what living with these devices for a month are like.

Questions? Experiences? Comment below…

2014 Wish List

Every year I do a gadget review of all the cool products that became available throughout the year. This year I’m making it more expansive… including items that I think are awesome whether they’re gadgets or not. Enjoy!

  • Upgraded Coffee… oh, and their absolutely amazing upgrade Cocoa Butter. Just the best coffee period. You can order whole bean or K-cups. I have a video on this site explaining how to use the k-cups in the new Keuirg 2.0. There’s also a recipe for my version of their Bulletproof Coffee. Once you try it you’ll wonder how you ever lived without. Then again, your bank statements will also remind how darn expensive total deliciousness can be!
  • iPhone 6. Okay, if you’re all into the Phablet then get the 6+, but the 6 is awesome. Uber thin and lightning fast. With a return to the curved form factor I think it’s the best iPhone to date.
  • T-Mobile Plans. For under $100 a month I get unlimited calls, texts and LTE, plus free text and data internationally (and $.20 a minute calling from abroad). When my husband and I went to Japan last month the free data came in handy! I was looking up maps, translations, etc.like a pro. I came back to a bill that remained under $100. Sweet.
  • Transcend 1TB SSD. It comes in both Thunderbolt and USB… but both can be used with your Mac. Solid state drives are more robust and less prone to injury while traveling. This model is very small and it a great travel back-up drive. Under $500 too.
  • Otoro. Oh. My. God. The food of heaven itself. Tuna belly, as we’d say in English, yet sometimes called Fatty Tuna. However, not all fatty tuna is the same. The stuff we have here in the US is crap (or so I’ve found so far). Japan has the most amazing ever… and at about $10-20 a piece will rip your wallet to shreds as you order one after another. It’s amazing, and I so highly recommend it if you enjoy amazing food.
  • Jump. It’s a charging cable and back-up battery for your iDevice. Doesn’t hold a ton of juice, but is super tiny and easy to use. Mine goes with me everywhere. I charge it at night while charging the phone through it. So both are ready the next day.
  • AirBnB. Wow, what a great idea… sometimes. I love everything about this site and idea. Yes, there are a few bad apples who rent you a crappy, dirty, used place simply to pocket some extra cash. But most are professional units in seasonal vacation locations… a house at a hotel price.
  • Estately. Simon and I have recently gotten into real estate investing. This is the only app we know that is absolutely up to date on the MLS. We found new places the day they come on the market… calling our agent before she even knows about them. The app works on iDevices, but seems to be a little flaky lately. Hopefully they update it soon. Either way, it’s great if you follow the MLS.

 

Now just the list of cool things… perhaps mentioned before, or just general “in” items for your gift giving strategy!

  • Owls
  • Keurig
  • Netflix
  • Clarisonic
  • Tieks
  • iPad Air (and iPad Air 2)
  • Macbook Pro Retina
  • Neat Scanner
  • Escort Radar Detector
  • Playstation 3
  • Roku 2
  • Chromebook
  • Harry’s Shave products
  • Blue Nile

 

May this season be about giving the gifts of light, love, hope, support and commitment. Although we may use money to show our love and appreciation, ensure the gift is not all about money… but about thought and love. Use this as a springboard for the rest of the year, next year, and the rest of your life. Authentic love and commitment to each other are the greatest gifts God gave us to share.

Introverts Pushed To Be Extroverts At Work: Why?

Since when did being an introvert become such a problem? Well, since forever. Take this post by an introvert (here). This author complains about how people chastise his personality type and constantly try to “fix” him. He’s not unhappy. He’s successful. So why try to mold him into a different personality type?

 

It’s because many people think that being an extrovert is more beneficial. An article within BBC (here) explains some of the misconceptions to both the popularity and number of extroverts in society. Funny thing though, some of our most successful people are introverts… do we need them to “be more social”? Should they try to be more like their extroverted counterparts? My answer, and the answer by the majority of psychologists and social scientists, is no… introverts do not need to change. This article (here) does explain the differences between personality types and abnormal mental disorders. It notes that although we often factor them into two types, there is actually a spectrum that constitutes ones personality profile and the use of two nouns often clouds the real being. This article is more focused on the mental issues that such a bucket implies, but it makes a point (even if indirect): our personality can and will be different from others around us, and sometimes much different.

 

So does that mean if we have different personality types we should make an effort to group everyone into the one we find more favorable? My husband likens this to hair color, gender, height, and other characteristics that make us who we are… and absolutely not something we discriminate against. I agree. God has graced us all with the gifts that make us who were are. With all the books and therapists telling us to embrace our true selves, we are shocked when workmates or leadership tells us to be more like them. It’s really a leadership issue.

 

Leadership expert Mike Staver (here) summed it up best: (As a leader) how do I know the difference (between encouraging engagement and being insensitive to the personality needs of people)? The key is focusing on what you want the results to be. Let’s use an example of a large group event in which one desired result would be better relationships between coworkers of a geographically diverse company.  Given this result, what should leaders do to accomplish this result? The key is to be sensitive enough to know the difference between encouraging  versus pushing. Leaders need to create opportunities to build relationships, yet allow their teams to build these based on their own individual relationship building techniques.

 

Mike said, “Take you (Elle) as an example. You’re highly successful in your career. What has worked for you?” Good point. I’ve built long-lasting and robust friendships with a variety of people throughout my life… even as an introvert. My level of engagement shouldn’t be measured by how long I stay at a party, or how many people I introduce myself to. I get to know people via more personal and closed conversations. I build trust via actions and words coming together to show me a complete picture of someone. My relationship building is influenced by my personality, but also by many other facets that, to me, create a complete and functional way of being successful in life, and at work. So the point to this?

 

Great leaders need to understand the results they are looking to achieve (the why they are doing something) and be sensitive to how they create the opportunities for it to be accomplished (the how). There is (rarely) one right way to do something. It is arrogant to think otherwise. Great leaders know this and create an environment to encourage personality, success, and diversity. Whether you’re tall or short, have a certain hair color, are male or female, or are introverted or extraverted, your leader should leverage your talents, encourage your growth and be sensitive and accepting of who you are. That’s what leadership is all about.

 

What personality type are you? For an online version of the Myers-Briggs personality test click here.

 

“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.” – Albert Einstein

 

“I’m an introvert … I love being by myself, love being outdoors, love taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, the sky.” – Audrey Hepburn

Bulletproof Coffee: Elle’s Version

This morning, after yoga, I made my bulletproof coffee. This time I added (in addition to the raw cacao butter that has become the staple), raw organic vanilla and organic collagen (https://www.upgradedself.com/products/bulletproof-upgraded-collagen-protein).

The coffee was frothy, sweet and delicious without any sugar. I wasn’t hungry all morning and am now about to grab some lunch. Still not starving though.

My recipe:
10 oz brewed Upgraded Coffee
1 tbsp Kerry Gold Unsalted Butter
1 tbsp Upgraded MCT Oil
1-2 tbsp Raw Organic Cacao Butter (Upgraded site)
2 tsp Collagen Protein Powder
1 tsp Upgraded Vanilla* optional

In a BlendTec use Beverages-> Whole Juice setting

Amazing…

Higher Mozzarella Cheese Consumption Correlates to Higher Engineering Doctorates!

http://www.tylervigen.com/view_correlation?id=3890

per-capita-consumption-of-mozzarella-cheese-us_civil-engineering-doctorates-awarded-us

This should prove to you, once and for all, that you should NOT believe the statistics you read without asking significantly more questions.

 

Significantly more.

 

Tyler Vigen thought it interesting enough to create a website dedicated to the humor in misleading statistics. His charts show that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. But considering how often people quote statistics, I fear most fail to see the complexity in the math. Just google “statistics” and you’ll see over six million results. Some educational, some to inform, many/most are statistics themselves. If you were major in Statistics, you’d be learning math and science, theory, sociology, psychology, and the various principles used to analyze data. If you’re good at analyzing data (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/magazine/shopping-habits.html?_r=0), you can use statistics to… drive business, solve problems, create problems, cause trouble. Like any great power, it comes with great responsibility. That responsibility lies on those who report the statistics, but it also lies on those who consume it. You.

 

Have you ever heard the statistic that we only use 10% of our brain? I hope you never used that quote yourself. You’d be laughably wrong. Another survey shows how entire populations can be wrong because they misunderstand statistics.

 

The moral of today’s story: be wary of the statistics you read, and even more diligent if you plan to use them for anything. Look into the cause. Find fact in causation and influence. And lastly… do not quote anything until you do 🙂

 

100% of people who read this story will have found it on the internet.