AAAAAaaaaarrrrrgggggghhhhh!!

I felt pretty much the same when my MacBook Pro failed last month.  So I know how our customers feel.

How does it really feel when your computer fails in the middle of a critical business project? (or when preparing for a wedding, barmitzvah, wake, or anything of critical, time-sensitive importance)

This morning one of my key customers way out in beautiful Austin, Texas emailed and reported that her relatively new Lenovo Yoga notebook was experiencing significant signs of failure.  The CEO of her company, out here in California, was copied on the message. That's one way a customer labels a service request URGENT without actually writing URGENT.

The CEO's reply-all:

"AAAAAaaaaarrrrrgggggghhhhh!!" 

I know how he feels.  My MacBook Pro 13" Retina stopped working last month and had to be mailed out to Apple.  Fortunately, we have a process that results in near-zero downtime for the customer.

The following is how we handle this kind of situation to keep everyone happy, despite hardware failures. The bottom line: 1) The customer needs her computer and can't be without it 2) The traditional repair model that requires being without a computer for any period of time doesn't work for customers with business critical uptime requirements.

The immediate response to our customer (even before receiving the email from the CEO) was as follows:

We will call you immediately this morning to perform a screen-sharing session to see if there is a possibility of an effective "quick fix".  While unlikely, let's follow the TechRoom process to make sure we get you the best results as quickly as possible.
If there is no quick fix, we should get a replacement notebook for you immediately.  Lenovo only permits mail-in repairs, and Lenovo quotes a standard 5-7 business turnaround time.  With a replacement, here's the process we'll go through, with the CEO's approval on the equipment:
  1. Immediately order a replacement computer (via Amazon- I'll send the link for Amazon Prime same-day or overnight shipping) and drop-ship to TechRoom Newport Beach
  2. We'll configure the replacement with all of your settings (I have these largely captured in our dossier/specification for you from the last switch)
  3. We'll ship you the new computer overnight to your home office (or your location at the time)
  4. With both machines set up on your desk and on your network, we'll remote in and facilitate data transfer (we estimate this should take about 2-3 hours)
  5. Once data transfer's complete, we'll walk you through the new computer and go through the checklist of everything - printers, bluetooth devices, Box sync, etc.  
  6. Once you bless the new unit and full functional, there will be a return airbill ready to adhere on the box to ship the old unit back to TechRoom so we can scrub the dat for security and then facilitate warranty
Let me know if you have any questions, concerns, or any other feedback.  I think this makes the most sense given the symptom that sounds largely hardware.
We will contact you between 9-10AM PST this morning to coordinate a quick call/remote access session wherever you're at to start the process.

One of the extra steps we take for our TechRoom Concierge customers is maintaining an up-to-date dossier that includes both a company checklist, as well as a user-specific checklist.  For example, we use Sophos Endpoint exclusively at that customer site, and I also know that my user doesn't like Outlook- she's a Google Chrome user (like yours truly).

It takes a response like the above, followed by competent execution and a few brain cells applied to creative adjustments when things deviate from the expected, to instill confidence in the user and to get the CEO back to a zen-like state.

Stop Your Smartphone from Making You (and Your Family) Sick

My MacBook and my secret weapon against real germs and viruses: TechSpray and a microfiber cloth.

My MacBook and my secret weapon against real germs and viruses: TechSpray and a microfiber cloth.

Want to kill the viruses that software can’t? I’ll let you in on a little tech secret that will help make your computer and devices feel and look better, and you and your family will be healthier at the same time.

This post applies to moms, dads, entrepreneurs, business managers, and just about everyone I know. Because no one likes getting sick. A few years ago I discovered one simple action that takes under 2 minutes that can cut down the number of times you get sick with a nasty cold by over 50%.  Do it at home, and at the office, and you’ll be healthier and happier.

There are nasty viruses and germs everywhere.  When you have a newborn baby like I do, you get reminded of this rather dramatically by your pediatrician.  Did you know that a newborn under 90-days with a fever is practically a ticket to the emergency room, and possibly worse, even a spinal tap? Want to know what’s more scary? Just do a quick Fermi estimation of the number of people that touched that banana at Trader Joe’s before you did.  Start at the banana farm and work your way forward.  That’s a lot of fingers. And I’ll bet they probably don’t keep antibacterial baby wipes in their bag and use them all the time.

These little buggers- flu virus, headcolds, and more, can be sitting on your keyboard and right on top of your iPhone.  Eradicate them the safe way with TechSpray. It's my favorite tech-health tool.

These little buggers- flu virus, headcolds, and more, can be sitting on your keyboard and right on top of your iPhone.  Eradicate them the safe way with TechSpray. It's my favorite tech-health tool.

I’ll share with you why I prefer the Japanese ritual of bowing over shaking hands. I’m currently in Orange County in Southern California. The buildings I frequent to visit customers are the towers in Fashion Island, the Irvine Spectrum Center and even those near South Coast Plaza. On almost any visit to the restrooms, I can see people exiting, walking  right past the sinks to wherever they're headed. I also see people cough on keyboards. Then I see them use their keyboards. It’s none of my business where they were, what they were doing and whether or not they washed their hands. But I’d say it’s a safe bet that someone skipped the sinks and soap. 

Years ago at TechRoom one of my techs introduced me to a neat product: TechSpray. I used it for years, cleaning the exterior, keyboard and display of my MacBook Pros and even my iPhone before jetting out to see a customer.  As much as I’m careful to wash and dry my hands before sitting down to do some extensive writing, I always manage to get the keyboard just a little shiny from the natural oils on my hands. That, together with everything else in life, leaves a lot of little blemishes, spots, etc.  As silly as it sounds, you can tell whether or not someone carries a handkerchief by the dry splatter on their display. Tech Spray does the trick at making your Mac or PC or smartphone look and even feel like new. It’s safe on electronics and so far, the safest cleaner I’ve ever used on my computers and other devices.  Note: Like anything else, read the manufacturer’s cleaning requirements, if provided. Even then, I always test a small spot first to make sure the cleaning agent is safe for the plastic or glass I’m cleaning. So far over the past several years, I’ve never had a problem with TechSpray.

So when I had my techs start using TechSpray as a mandatory cleaning step, I noticed something interesting: Less sick time.   I keep track of my employees sick days, how often they call out and what days they call out. It’s good proactive HR when you’re running a small business. With no other major change, I measured a 25% reduction in sick time over two years, just from cleaning your keyboard once per week. I can’t exactly take credit for this discovery.  My wife ritualistically wiped down everything from the table to the silverware when we first started eating out with our first son. She’s just killing germs.

Add up 2 less sick day per year times ten people and that’s almost three weeks of time. For me, just having a reduced chance of bringing a nasty bug back home that could infect the family is worth it.  A sick baby, sick wife or sick son is no fun for anyone (including daddy).

In addition to this being a staple at my office, I now keep TechSpray handy for all of our TechRoom service visits to any of our accounts. I recommend keeping 1-2 quart bottles and a few dozen microfiber cloths at the office along with all your office supplies.  Educate your employees about using TechSpray on their computers. At TechRoom, we do a microfiber laundry run about one every 2-3 months. 

I also use the following supplies at home and on the road:

Of course, I keep all of this locked up and out of reach from the kiddos of course.

In an age of devices that we’re constantly touching, sharing and showing off, TechSpray is one of my mainstays for health, right along with my morning ritual, my daily supplements (I use Athletic Greens), good diet and exercise. TechSpray is an essential for everyone.

 

The Right Way, and the Oh-So-Wrong Way, to Switch to a New iPhone

iPhone in your pocket? Don't get in that hot tub! But if you do, we'll show you how to switch to a new one the right way.

iPhone in your pocket? Don't get in that hot tub! But if you do, we'll show you how to switch to a new one the right way.

There’s a right way to switch to a new iPhone.  It takes a few minutes of your time, and saves you several, maybe dozens of hours of time.

Done wrong, you’ll be stressed, waste dozens of hours of your time, and possibly lose precious memories or important information.

The unfortunate reality is that most people do it wrong. In fact, I’ve been to over 50 Apple Stores in the US and abroad, and even several Verizon Wireless stores, and for some reason even though everyone seems to know how to switch the right way, not only did I never once hear a customer being told how to do it the right way, I almost never hear it being talked about at the Genius Bar or on the sales floor. 

So I’m going to show you the ultimate time-saver that can help you switch to a new iPhone seamlessly. Get the solution and the full story at Switcher Genius

(Click to jump to Switcher Genius) 

Make sure to sign up for Switcher Genius updates and get the entire video guide to switching iPhones.

Six Signs You've Been Suckered by Your IT

Snake oil, anyone? It's fixed-fee. Discounted. And guaranteed to make you ignore the pain.

Snake oil, anyone? It's fixed-fee. Discounted. And guaranteed to make you ignore the pain.

My jaw dropped and I almost choked on my drink when my friend told me why he kept his IT vendor around. “I don’t like them,” he said. “But their contract says…”

I can admit it freely now.  For most of my life I’ve been a patsy, or just plain naive. When I started my business, I needed help in a lot of basic areas where I didn’t want to hire a full-timer, or simply couldn’t afford one: Accounting, bookkeeping, legal, human resources. Like any entrepreneur, I just want to know that if a problem comes up, I have the right go-to person that will handle it, fast and expertly. I also want that person to check in with me from time to time and tell me things I don’t know but want or need to know.  That’s how I measure success of my service providers.

Things didn’t go too well. A controller recommended to me lied about her credentials. A lawyer I liked kept sending me documents riddled with typos. Annual documents didn’t get filed when they were supposed to, costing me hundreds of dollars. I paid way too much money for inept hires recruited by my HR person (did she actually know what I do?). I think my MBA just made things worse.  Instead of getting straight to the real issue, I hyper-analyzed what was going on. I would get on a call with one of these service providers, and actually try to help them by asking them about how they do doing things.

Screwed up?  Totally.  Should I care how a service provider to me does their work?  Absolutely not.

Fast forward 15 years. I’ve learned some lessons and also un-learned a lot of the academic nonsense that I picked up in business school. What I expect of any service provider I trust with my business is fast response, expert performance, and that they keep me informed proactively of what I have no idea to ask about. I have a lot of things to stay on top of, and they help me stay on top of each area I’m not an expert in. All the bozos and clowns are gone. My part-time long-term CFO and legal counsel are second to none, and I have a network of advisors that I’ve hand-picked who are better than me, teach me, mentor me, and help me stay ahead in the game of business.

Which is why I almost choked on the lime in my drink when my friend told me why he was keeping his IT people around, despite hating their guts. My friend is a pretty savvy entrepreneur, so I asked him some questions to understand this apparent relationship mismatch. What I wanted to know was, why do you stay with a provider you hate?

The answers I heard and the experiences shared with me told me that almost every entrepreneur experiences what I went through with my vendors 15 years ago, but much worse with IT.  Tech is the ultimate fog.  It’s goofy-complex, we’re ridiculously dependent on it, and at some point we need to place our trust in an IT person rather than do it ourself.  

The big irony of my learning here is that I didn’t realize just how bad it is for other entrepreneurs, because I never had to give up tech to someone else. Tech is what I do. On one hand, tech is way worse than law, accounting or HR. Getting advice on what corporate entity type is way easier to understand in most cases than figuring out what kind of IT system components are really best for the business. And the potential loss of money and time is so much greater if an IT system is screwed up.

So I’ve lined up the top six red flags that could mean you’re allowing yourself to be a sucker, or that your IT has you pegged as a sucker:

Sucker Warning #1: You keep them around because you like them.

Some of the absolute worst techs I’ve ever worked with were hired into “IT Manager” jobs by employers who liked their personalities. If they had asked me for a review of the tech, I would have told them that they were heading into a disaster. It always takes about 1-2 years for someone to figure out that just because you like the tech (or tech company) doesn’t mean it’s a fit.  Figure it out before it’s too late. 

Sucker Warning #2: Hope. 

When you keep a service provider around because you’re worried it’s going to be harder to find a new one, don’t.  You’re asking for trouble.  If you hope the provider will get better, you’re just delaying the inevitable. And if you’re not happy with them you’d be better off with no service while you find another provider.

Sucker warning #3: You don’t like them.

Again, it’s easy to procrastinate getting rid of someone because you’re worried about how hard it’s going to be to find someone decent and, hopefully better. I had this belief for years until I realized it’s a big market, and that you’ll find the exact service you want when you first define on paper exactly the kind of service you expect.

Sucker warning #4: They’re service vampires.

I hear this again and again, most recently from one of my neighbors who has a service provider that doesn’t actually do anything, cashes their monthly check, then charges them extras for responding to breakdowns.  Providers like this are sucking a business dry if they’re not advising the entrepreneur on things that can be done to prevent problems. It’s one thing to respond to an issue that you’ve already proposed a solution for that’s pending a decision, it’s another to sit back and wait for things to break.  The latter is as noble and the green scum that grows on the side of an aquarium.

Sucker warning #5: Service is random.

When a service provider doesn’t have a mission, or when the employees don’t know the mission, or don’t care about the mission, it’s pretty obvious.  Service is random. And the odds of getting a good guy (or gal) is about one in ten.  When you catch yourself wanting that one person, because on the inside you know you don’t trust anyone else, that’s a problem.

Sucker warning #6: They’re incompetent.

I talked with a business owner today who told me she went back to the same company three times, for the same service to migrate her PC to her Mac, including migrating her email from Outlook to Mac Mail, getting QuickBooks Pro running virtually, etc.  Each time she went to the company they told her they couldn’t get it working.  Three weeks later, with her patience gone and hundreds of dollar into service, she demanded a resolution, only to be told that they don’t have the capability she was looking for: Equal competence with both Mac and PC.  That provider wasted three weeks of her life. 

Your IT system should never be dependent on the service provider, but instead, your vision as an entrepreneur for what’s possible should be made possible by a service provider’s competence.  What to run Mac and PC?  Then you need someone who knows both.  Belief systems abound, and single-vendor specialties, like Mac only and Windows only, are limiting and ultimately damaging to a business.

Question of the day: As an entrepreneur, have you found danger signs or warnings that something is out of whack with your IT?  What were they? Please share in the comments, and feel free to ask questions in the comments as well, and I’ll respond to every one.

How I Lost Four Hours Every Day with an Apple Watch

how-i-lost-four-hours-daily-with-an-apple-watch.jpg

People who know me know that I'm obsessed with time. I changed my email address from jcoleman to jc just so I could stop spelling my last name to people younger than baby boomers, saving me about 14 hours per year of spelling my name (spelling my name 12 x per day times 30 seconds of distraction adds up quickly).  That's one of the tricks I use for small business email naming to help give a company's employees back hundreds of hours per year instantly.

Several events in my life, some shocking, some beautiful, opened my eyes to the sheer scarcity of time that all of us face but that few recognize. When you realize that your life can be calculated in minutes, and every one of those minutes can never be recaptured, you start thinking about what's worthy of those precious moments in life.

I just boxed up my Apple Watch, slapped the return label on it, and I have never been happier to send a device back to its maker. Let me explain why.

I recently wrote about my Apple Watch conundrum. I totally didn't care about the device during its launch because of the sheer effort I have made to control all things tech and not let them erode my attention and time each day. But I decided to order one to get familiar with it. I'm constantly asked by business owners and executives about the potential benefits of cutting edge technologies, so I always experiment on myself first.

When I received the watch, I was immediately disappointed. Steve Jobs would have gone bananas over this design. It's boring. Clunky. Absolutely not sexy in any way whatsoever.  I bought the space gray with black band, thinking that black is safest in casual or dress clothes. Put simply, it's not a flattering timepiece at all. I own about 20 watches spanning four decades, and each watch has a particular style to it.  The form factor of the Apple Watch is closest to the clunky LED timex my grandfather wore in the late 70s.

Despite this, I started wearing it to test the features.  I paired it with my phone. Like the latest Apple TV build that's criticized so much, there's so much that's unintuitive about the watch. The user interface is a mess, unlike the iPhone which is ruled by some basic tenets of simplicity. The first thing I noticed was a very Mac-like implementation of handoff between my iPhone and Apple Watch.  I'm in front of my MacBook often, and with Apple's handoff I receive text messages on my display- extremely useful for me because everything in my life is protected by two-factor authentication; I need text messages to log into web sites, etc. where I have protected or controlled information.  

I noticed text messages, email and even Line messages (big in Japan) coming through to my Apple Watch just fine when my iPhone was within range.  I use Meraki in my home and office, so my WiFi range and connection is incredible.  I could leave my iPhone on my home office desk and walk out into the cul-de-sac or anywhere around the house and get texts and other communications fine on the watch.

But the design was still bugging me. I found out the next morning that Apple had taken inventory of Apple Watches in their stores for the first time since launching the device. I decided to reserve a silver with white band to see if it looked any better.  My thinking was that if one's going to wear a technical device, maybe silver will look more appropriate given it's high-tech nature.  When I arrived at the store I was totally disappointed. Not just in that the silver and white watch looked ridiculous, like something only a teenage kid with zero fashion sense would want to wear, but the overall shopping experience at Apple was completely the opposite of what I had come to expect after all these years.  

The girl I was handed off to at the end of the customer baton relay starting at the front door had zero empathy.  I was looking at watches, a highly personal thing, and she was clearly disinterested in me, my interests, opinions or anything else for that matter. I had both my black Apple Watch and my Omega Seamaster with me, so I could compare the other watches and try to find a match that would work for me.  I asked to see the stainless steel Apple Watch that retails for $1000.  I decided well in advance I would never buy it. The technology in mobile is evolving so fast that any purchase today will be obsolete in a matter of months. But I wanted to see the stainless steel band, and experience the design that Jony Ive and team had invested so much energy and effort into these past few years.

When I picked up the stainless steel watch, the first thing I noticed was that it didn't feel substantial.  It felt weak. Trivial. Cheap even.  I have two Japanese watches, a Seiko and a Casio, both with stainless steel bands dramatically more fluid, much stronger and more beautifully polished. When I tried to close the latch I noticed that it wasn't an intuitive close.  This completely shocked me.  When I bought my Omega Seamaster in 1999 the first thing I noticed was that closing the band latch, including the built-in extension designed to extend the band around a wetsuit, was intuitive and simple.  I didn't read an instruction manual, I just did it.  The first time.  It was like muscle memory, without any prior practice.

The Apple Watch was not like that experience.  I had to think about it.  I didn't like it. It felt awkward, and it felt cheap.  But I knew that Apple was charging a $600 premium for just the band and the sapphire crystal glass on the watch.  The girl at the Apple Store validated that indeed those two features were the only features that justified the $600 premium.  When I asked about keeping the band and moving it to the next Apple Watch when Apple changes their technology in 6-12 months, she replied, "Apple hasn't said anything about that, we know nothing."  I was silent. She looked at me with impatience.  I noticed that most of the kids on the floor had the same look working with their customers.  Their jobs just changed from helping people with computers to helping people with jewelry.  It's a dramatically different job now.

As much of a fan boy I am of Apple products, I had never in my life been more convicted at that time that I had zero interest in any of the watches from a design perspective.  So I thanked the girl, who grunted an acknowledgement of sorts, and left the store to get on with my day.  I decided to try the black Apple Watch for a few more days.

Then yesterday something happened. I spent a few hours at the pool with my son, followed by a few hours at my office followed by a few hours at my home office.  During the day I received the same amount of text messages I normally receive, about 99% of which do not need an immediate response. In fact, most of the texts I receive are in lieu of email and could be responded to later that day or even tomorrow.  No one I know has the expectation of a response, if they did, they would call me instead.

The haptic touch system kept tapping my wrist.  I would be writing an email and... TAP TAP TAP... I stopped and looked at my watch. Realizing it wasn't important I tried getting back to the email I was writing that was, and had to stop and reclock my thinking.  What was I writing and where was my train of thought?  Then again TAP TAP TAP... another message interrupted me. 

This continued throughout the day.  By 8PM I was sitting with my wife, reflecting over the day, and I realized I could not for the life of me recall what I had accomplished.  This is unusual, because I usually journal every day, and I always tend to get done what I set out to do.  But my conscious mind was fried.  I couldn't remember anything.  The watch had interrupted me every few minutes throughout the entire day.

I took it off and put it on the counter.  I had an immediate sense of relief.  The irony is that I had bought the watch thinking that the reminders with Omnifocus would be helpful in keeping me on track.  Instead I found that the watch was the greatest distraction with the most potential for absolute destruction of personal productivity of anything I had ever encountered.  I added up the number of times I was distracted and multiplied it by the number of minutes I had to refocus on any given matter at hand. By my most conservative estimate I lost four hours of my day. Over a year, that's 1460 distracted, wasted hours. That's almost an entire work year.

This is simply a push vs. pull issue.  I turn off all notifications on my phone on all apps. No banners, beeps or chirps.  My phone calls and text messages are the only things that chirp, and I learn to ignore them except for when I want to check them.  The watch is a completely different animal.  It's on your wrist.  While I could learn to ignore it, or tune it down, what would be the point?  At that point I have my phone, and a very expensive toy on my wrist that I wouldn't use.

Tonight I was listening to an episode of the Random Show with Kevin Rose and Tim Ferriss, and I was pleasantly surprised to realize I'm not alone in hating tech. It's getting downright ridiculous. Kevin and Tim reflected on how sheerly stupid it is to have a device on your body tell you things, like "Stand up" or "Your heart rate is elevated" when you're working out.

Many folks believe Apple will continue to refine the device and will ultimately create something every special.  I question whether or not we really need to go there. Right now, in my humble opinion, Apple has created a device that is distracting, incomplete, ugly and downright destructive to productivity. But the door to wearable tech has been opened in the marketplace, and so the players will play.  I really like my iPhone 6 Plus, and I seriously love my MacBook Pro Retina 13". Both devices are best in class, and no other tech compares.  The watch was a real disappointment to me, but I'm probably not the target audience, or the watch hasn't advanced sufficiently yet.

My Apple Watch is going back to Apple tomorrow. I can't see anyone truly enjoying the device other than some of my geek friends, and the brand loyalists who will pay premium prices for any device Apple produces, even if the device will ultimately be disposed of.

The camera that flies itself

The LILY drone, a self-piloting photo and video drone that can follow you around.  Check out my detailed post here at Family Photo Care, or go straight to the LILY site here.

The LILY drone, a self-piloting photo and video drone that can follow you around.  Check out my detailed post here at Family Photo Care, or go straight to the LILY site here.

Ok, as soon as I saw this I realized we're not that far away from a lightsaber training droid (read = drone). #happyjames

I have oodles of fun with my four-year-old boy with my Parrot Drone out in front of our house. Since I bought the wifi extender it's been almost silly getting up to several hundred feet and looking down at myself in HD.

A friend just turned me on to the LILY, a self-flying, selfie-taking, HD-video and 12MP camera enabled drone that also happens to be waterproof.  I just wrote about it and posted a cool video over at the Family Photo Care blog.

My mind has been running nonstop with the possibilities. I'm certain it's going to get very out of hand very quickly.  I just pre-ordered mine while it's still at the $499 price-point (it's going up as high as $999 after June 15).

protecting precious memories doesn't happen by accident. Losing them does.

Gregory Coleman atop Tahquitz rock- rock climber, teacher, classical guitarist and my dad - not long before we lost him in 2005. This is one of my most cherished pictures and memories of him, and I protect it along with all my family photos and videos.

Want to learn everything about your photos and videos, including how to protect them? Awesome. Because I'm starting a newsletter and a blog on the topic. Email me here if you're interested in learning anything about photos and videos

Around 2003 I really got into photos and videos.  First with my iPhone. Then I bought my first Canon DSLR (you know, the big camera with interchangeable lenses).  It was partially because my dad got really sick and I wanted all the memories I could possibly have of him with family. Then I had my first son in 2010. I don't regret for a moment the amount I've spent on digital cameras and iPhones, constantly upgrading for better pictures. I've probably taken about 200,000 photos in the past 10 years. Seriously. I'm not kidding.

Now every few months my wife comes to me with her iPhone and I get to do the ritualistic offloading of photos and videos- and even though she now has a 128GB iPhone 6 Plus, it keeps filling up. One day several months ago we were driving up to San Francisco and I was telling her about what I'm up to at TechRoom. Mostly stuff for small businesses, really. She looked at me and asked one question: James, where are all our photos?  That was it. Short and sweet.  Her point was: I want to start enjoying 100% of our family photos and videos, anywhere, anytime. You have the technology, you have the skill, and you're going to make it happen, Now, dammit.

I love taking pictures of food.  I took this in Japan about two weeks ago with family at a sushi bar in Kitashinchi, Osaka, Japan.

I got obsessed. Photography was a hobby already, and then I realized I could combine it with what I love about my work: Helping people learn and enjoy all their tech stuff.  I started exploring and teaching myself everything there was to know about storing, accessing, enjoying, and backing up photos and videos.  I've worked for a lot of fun customers who routinely travel the world and come back with thousands of photos per week. I help them get their workflows together and show them how to protect it all so they would never lose a single shot that mattered.  

How could I not help my family enjoy all our family memories?

I spent the last couple years nerding out on everything to do with digital photos and videos, and even music. I learned how to transform all my old boxes of slides, film and printed photos, and I learned how to deal with videos, including VHS and even older- getting them into iTunes. It is awesome to have a 1930s rip of my grandpa's guitar music when he was rocking out in high school, hand-pressed to vinyl in Los Angeles, now imported into iTunes. Even better, I can pull up pictures on my Mac of grandpa (Ervan "Bud" Coleman) in the white house with the Tijuana Brass entertaining Mr. President.

Analog to digital was just the start. Getting a few terabytes of home videos including all our TV recordings available to stream out of the house to anywhere we are in the world was next.  And I can do all of it without the bugs and other shenanigans, restrictions and various issues that can come with relying on Apple's iCloud.  Note: I do use iCloud, but I don't rely on it and I don't put all my stuff there- but that's for a future blog post.

My sweet setup.  A 27" Ultra-HD display powered by a Mac Mini (hidden in the drawer) and a Pegasus 2 RAID.  I saved money where it matters and invested where it counts. And my wife is beyond happy, which is what matters most.

So I started a web site dedicated to helping people get all their photos and videos under control: www.familyphotocare.com.  It's a site dedicated to sharing everything I've learned through a combination of free resources and also through books, videos and training. My goal is to help non-techies learn how to do it themselves.  I simply can't imagine sitting in a mall having people looking over my shoulder while some kid tries to teach me about an application while he simultaneously tells me that can't talk about other non-Apple products that I need to know about.  

I've been helping some of our customers at TechRoom build simple, awesome photo and video systems in their home that they can use to collect, organize, enjoy and protect all the family memories, photos and videos their care about. Now I'm going to take that to the next level with familyphotocare.com.

I'm starting a newsletter all about the topic of photos and videos.  If you want in on it, send me an email to jc+photos@techroom.com. Let me know what you want to learn!

Are you a Sheep or VIP? An important update from TechRoom

Are you a sheep or a VIP? Don't waste your time on trips to the mall when there is a better option: Tap the Concierge Bell.

Are you a sheep or a VIP? Don't waste your time on trips to the mall when there is a better option: Tap the Concierge Bell.

Hey, it’s James Coleman from TechRoom, and I’ve got an important update to share with you.

Five years ago a lot of us were OK standing in line at a Genius Bar for hours dealing with a computer issue. But it’s 2015. Schlepping your stuff through the mall isn’t cool and it’s not productive. 

Now we have other things to worry about, like the biggest companies on earth getting hacked while we keep putting more of our stuff - work documents and family photos, even our identities - on their systems. How do we enjoy everything technology offers and still protect ourselves? 

People really want to talk to someone at their level about their tech problems. So we’ve made some changes for you:

It’s 2015, and you need a tech sherpa to avoid 21st century disasters. I want to be your guide, and my team wants to help you, your family and your business avoid modern problems.

I would love to reconnect and keep in touch. Connect with me on LinkedIn, and definitely add yourself to my email list. I'm going to provide 100X more value to you with the emails and updates I share than any tech you've ever hired possibly could.

The watch conundrum

It's a full 5 days after the first Apple Watches started showing up.  I was in Japan traveling when the pre-orders started.  I remember right about midnight Pacific Time thinking 'I'm going to sit this one out'.

There are a lot of reasons I don't want the watch. 

  1. I spend a lot of mental energy trying to remain focused.  I have enough things distracting me, and enough self-help systems from my Mac and my iPhone 6 (plus).  I don't need more distractions.
  2. I love my Omega Seamaster.  I've owned it since 1999, and it powers itself, thanks to some 16th century monks' inventions. That's how Dad did it, that's how American does it, and it's worked out pretty well so far.
  3. The watch is ugly. I'm not the least sorry to say, it's not a good looking watch.  The Japanese called, and they want their 1980s calculator otaku wristwatch back.

Then my friend called me today from his watch.  Actually, he called me back just to show me how well it worked.  Thanks, David.  At that moment every mutant nerd chromosome in my body fired simultaneously.  I must have it

I continue to both love and hate the fact that Apple is nailing it.  And it's almost hilarious to me that the industry has been listening to really loud rumors for two years about the forthcoming Apple watch, and now it's like every predecessor doesn't even exist.  Apple is already a decade ahead of them, even with the bugs.

I admit it.  The watch is actually pretty cool.

Get rid of that old paper

After you pick up that new ScanSnap, you'll find yourself with lots of extra paper to get rid of, instead of letting it take over all your free space.  This weekend I found another paper-shredding company here in the OC: Shred-wise (links to site).  You can watch your paper being shredding on-the-spot, and they'll provide you a certificate of destruction.  And George (in the video) is a great guy.  They're open for drop-offs on the weekends, just be sure to call in advance and show up with plenty of time before they close.