Christmas Albums To Get You Into The Holiday Spirit

The holidays are here and how better to get into the holiday spirit than with Christmas music!

Whether you’re decorating your home, putting up the tree, wrapping gifts, sharing memories and stories, spending quality time with family and friends or just taking in all the wonders this holiday season has to offer, Christmas music is the perfect companion! There’s just something about Christmas music that gets you into the joyous, festive mood and truly makes this the most wonderful time of the year!

I’ve put together some of the Christmas albums that I enjoy this time of year. Check them out below and maybe consider adding them to your Christmas collection.

Happy Holidays!

Note: The links below include Affiliate Links. Please review the section entitled "Affiliate Links" in the Terms of Use of this website for additional information.

Click on an album cover below for an album track list and further details.

Firefox users may need to disable Content Blocking to properly view the content below.

Here We Go Again! Netgear FW v.1.0.9.60_10.2.60 Fixes Some Bugs; Creates New Issue on R7000

Just one week ago, Netgear officially released firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 to address bugs with a previously released and abruptly removed firmware version 1.0.9.58_10.2.58 for the Netgear R7000 router. While firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 did appear to stabilize the R7000 router and resolve some of the issues with firmware version 1.0.9.58_10.2.58, it also created a new issue – sporadic reboots.

The sporadic reboots aren’t exactly new to me. In my experience with firmware version 1.0.9.58_10.2.58, I did experience a couple of sporadic reboots right before Netgear released firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 along with the other issues. Those sporadic reboots may have been related to the out of memory issue which was one of the issues firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 fixed.

After upgrading to firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60, the Netgear R7000 router did appear to stabilize and operate normally for a couple of days. However, I started noticing sporadic reboots on the Netgear R7000 shortly thereafter. In the past week, the R7000 has sporadically rebooted at least twice. Upon reviewing posts on the Netgear Community site, I did find similar complaints about firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60. The consensus on how to fix the issue is to revert down to firmware version 1.0.9.42_10.2.44 until Netgear releases a proper, stable firmware upgrade that addresses this issue.

I’m generally not a fan of downgrading firmware as downgrades can create their own havoc; however, in this circumstance, it appears to be the only viable option, so I’ve gone ahead and reverted down to firmware version 1.0.9.42_10.2.44. Firmware version 1.0.9.42_10.2.44 is generally stable; however, I did have issues with the built-in VPN functionality which seemed to be resolved in firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60.

Hopefully, lessons have been learned and we’ll get a stable firmware upgrade from Netgear that addresses all these issues soon! Until then, let’s hope reverting to firmware version 1.0.9.42_10.2.44 restores order to this firmware chaos.

UPDATE: After further testing, I did notice issues with Wi-Fi connectivity and performance after reverting to firmware version 1.0.9.42_10.2.44. Some devices had trouble reconnecting to the Wi-Fi network on both the 2.4G and 5G networks. After some attempts to resolve the issue, I decided to go back to firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60. While I could try a hard reset of the router, I’m not overly confident the result would differ. If you are able to revert to firmware version 1.0.9.42_10.2.44 and get the R7000 stable, stick with it for now. If not, as in this case, go back to firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 or consider getting another router. A new router seems inevitable.

Netgear Releases FW 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 for R7000 Router; Fixes Bugs with FW v.1.0.9.58_10.2.58

Netgear officially released firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 late Tuesday to fix bugs with previously released and now removed firmware version 1.0.9.58_10.2.58. Earlier on Tuesday, the new firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 was available for download directly through the Netgear R7000 admin console; however, no release notes nor related documentation were available through the admin console or on the Netgear support website at the time.

Netgear has now provided release notes on firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 as well as made the download link available on the Netgear support website. According to Netgear, firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 includes the following bug fixes:

  • Fixes the issue where the WiFi performance drops

  • Improves the WAN throughput when the traffic meter is enabled

  • Fixes the attached device list issue where devices disappear from the list and cannot be edited in the GUI or Nighthawk app

  • Fixes some security issues

  • Fixes the installation wizard for AP mode.

  • Fixes the issue where the wrong connection type displays in the Access Control page

  • Fixes the issue where the speed test results always shows “0”

  • Fixes the issue where the BASIC page does not display the correct WiFi password when the security mode is in Enterprise mode

  • Fixes the issue where the same network names can be used for the main and guest 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz networks.

  • Fixes the issue where WPS still works even if the WiFi radio is disabled

  • Fixes the potential out of memory issue

If you’ve been experiencing issues after installing firmware version 1.0.9.58_10.2.58 on a Netgear R7000 router, try upgrading to firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 to see if it resolves your issues.

From my own experience, after upgrading to firmware version 1.0.9.58_10.2.58, I noticed issues including devices losing or dropping the connection to the 5G wireless network, unable to detect the 5G wireless network SSID, latency or loss of connectivity over the 5G wireless network, sporadic or intermittent connectivity issues over the wired network and spontaneous reboot of the Netgear R7000 router. The issues were occurring multiple times daily and seemingly getting worse.

Since upgrading to the new firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60, the Netgear R7000 has been stable and operating normally. Granted, it’s only been slightly over a day since I’ve installed the new firmware, but it looks promising. Fingers crossed!

Connectivity Issues After Upgrading Netgear R7000 To Firmware v.1.0.9.58_10.2.58

If you’ve recently upgraded your Netgear R7000 router to firmware version 1.0.9.58_10.2.58 and have been experiencing intermittent or sporadic connectivity issues with your router’s 5G wireless network connection, wired network connection or the like, it may be due to the firmware. Issues that I’ve experienced include devices losing or dropping the connection to the 5G wireless network, unable to detect the 5G wireless network SSID, latency or loss of connectivity over the 5G wireless network, sporadic or intermittent connectivity issues over the wired network and spontaneous reboot of the Netgear R7000 router.

Netgear has quietly pulled firmware version 1.0.9.58_10.2.58 along with its release notes and related documentation from their support website. The Netgear support website currently lists firmware version 1.0.9.42 as the current version. You don’t necessarily need to revert to firmware version 1.0.9.42 if you are currently on firmware version 1.0.9.58_10.2.58.

Just as quietly as Netgear removed firmware version 1.0.9.58_10.2.58, Netgear has also quietly released firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60, which is available for download via the Netgear R7000 router’s admin console. You’ll need to first login to your Netgear R7000 router. Upon successful login, you should see a message at the top of the admin console homepage indicating that a new firmware version for the Netgear R7000 is available. Clicking on the message should take you to the “Router Update” page where you can download and install firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60. Alternatively, from the admin console homepage, you can go to the “Advanced” tab then under “Administration,” go to “Router Update” and click “Check” to check for and install the new firmware. The router will require a reboot to complete the firmware upgrade.

Netgear has not provided any release notes or related documentation regarding firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 as of the date of this post so be sure to check the Netgear support website for further updates.

Hopefully, firmware version 1.0.9.60_10.2.60 does the trick!

A Job Interview Is A Two-Way Street!

Job interviews can certainly be nerve-racking. While they may open the door to potentially great opportunities and hopefully, to a long bright future, they can unquestionably make you nervous and feel uneasy for good reason. Job interviews are an opportunity to showcase your credentials, demonstrate credibility and make an impression (hopefully, a very positive one) that will resonate long after you leave the interview. If the job interview is for that “dream job” that you’ve searched long and hard for, a great interview could land you that “perfect job” while a poor interview may leave you feeling defeated and devastated.

That said, it’s also important to understand and realize that job interviews are a two-way street. Yes, it’s your opportunity to showcase your credentials, make a lasting impression and statement about why you should get the job; BUT, it’s also an opportunity for YOU to evaluate the job opportunity to determine if it truly is the right match for you.

Use the job interview to assess the job opportunity thoroughly beyond the basics like job function/duties, compensation and benefits.

What is a typical work day like?

You’ll want to try to get a feel for what a typical day in the life of this job would be. Yes, no two days are alike but what are some of the things that you can expect each day from basic to moderate to extreme. Is it a fast-paced, be quick-on-your-feet type of job? Is it a seasonal type of business? Are there peaks and lulls? Is it a 24/7 type of business where you’ll be constantly on-call or is it more of a “9 to 5” or “8 to 6” type of job?

Does this job offer a good personal/work life balance?

While you’re certainly willing to put in 110% towards the job, it’s vital to have a good personal/work life balance to manage stress and avoid burnout. If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be effective or efficient in what you are doing. During the interview you’ll want to try and get a sense of what the personal/work life balance will be like in this job. As eager as you may be to get the job, you also don’t want to regret it immediately thereafter.

What is the culture, atmosphere and environment like? Do you like and feel comfortable with the culture, atmosphere and environment?

You’ll be spending a good amount of time in this job, so this is very important. Be sure to look around the office and try to gauge the atmosphere. Pay attention to how people act, behave, respond, interact, operate and so forth. If you meet with multiple interviewers or other company employees, it’s a great opportunity to gauge your interaction with each interviewer and employee. You can learn a lot from just having conversations with various people within the company. Also look around the office, how it’s setup, organized and arranged. The look and feel of the office can say a lot about the environment, atmosphere and culture. Rely on your senses and instincts.

What are the opportunities for growth & development? What is the outlook for the future?

You want to get a sense of what the future will look like for both you and the company. Obviously, if this is a job and more importantly, a company that you hope to spend many years with, you’ll want to have room and opportunity to grow and develop. If the outlook is that it’ll take 3-5 years before you can make a move within the company, you’ll need to decide as to whether this is the right fit for you personally and career-wise. Sometimes you may take a position that isn’t quite in your area of interest but has the potential to get you into your area of interest with the caveat that it will take several years. You need to decide whether taking this job is the most appropriate course of action or whether it’s better to seek a different opportunity. How does this fit into your short and long-term personal & career plan?

You’ll also want to get a feel for where the company stands currently and where it is going. If you walk into a company that appears to be on its last leg, you’ll seriously need to take this into consideration because you know that within a certain period, you could be on your way right out the door. On a similar note, if a company is in the process of a merger or acquisition, there is the potential for downsizing or elimination of duplicate roles or job positions. While mergers and acquisitions are a way for companies to grow & expand rapidly and may result in benefits for some employees, there is always the potential for job losses.

So, the next time you go on a job interview, keep in mind that it’s a two-way street. The interviewer is exercising his or her due diligence and so should you!

Making The Move To Wireless Charging

Earlier this year, I decided to give wireless charging a try with my iPhone X. I researched different wireless charging pads from different manufacturers focusing on wireless charging pads that supported fast wireless charging (7.5W) for the iPhone X. I decided to try the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad.

The Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad supports 7.5W fast charging on the iPhone 8/8 Plus/X (it should also work with the latest generation of iPhones - iPhone XS/XS Max/XR) and 10W fast charging on the Samsung S7/S8/S8+/S9/S9+ and Note 8. You can check the Anker website for a full list of currently supported devices.

Anker_PowerWave_7_5_Pad.JPG

The Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad includes everything you need to get started including the wireless charging pad, micro-USB to USB cable and a Quick Charge 3.0 AC Adapter (some wireless charging pads do not include the AC adapter). The Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad features a LED indicator to let you know that your device is charging, a case-friendly design allowing you to charge your device while in its case (most cases should work) and has a built-in cooling fan to prevent overheating.

I’ve been using the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad since March and it works well. While I don’t necessarily mind using a cord to charge my device, I do like the convenience of not needing to have numerous cords lying around. I also like being able to charge my device while using Apple EarPods without the need for a dongle to split the lightning connector (ex: Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar). Of course, I could use Apple AirPods or Bluetooth-enabled earphones in lieu of Apple EarPods with the lightning connector.

The micro-USB to USB cable was just long enough for my purposes and you do need to center your device on the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad to properly charge the device (this is where the LED indicator becomes quite helpful). There have been a couple of times where my device wasn’t properly centered and did not start charging. That said, I haven’t run into any major problems with the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad and do recommend this wireless charging pad if you are in the market to get one.

The Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad costs around $50.

If you’re interested in the Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad, I’ve included a link below. I’ve also included a link to the Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar which allows you to charge your supported iPhone via the lightning connector while simultaneously using your Apple Earpods with lightning connector if you need to go the wired route.

Note: The links below include Affiliate Links. Please review the section entitled "Affiliate Links" in the Terms of Use of this website for additional information.

Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad - https://amzn.to/2DujxEk

Belkin Lightning Audio + Charge RockStar - https://amzn.to/2Dswlee

Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch with AMD Radeon Pro Vega Graphics Now Available

 Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

If you’ve been holding off on buying a new Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch series in hopes of configuring it with one of the new AMD Radeon Pro Vega discrete mobile GPUs, the wait is over!

You can now configure a MacBook Pro 15-inch series with either a new AMD Radeon Pro Vega 16 with 4GB of High Bandwidth (HBM2) memory or the AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20 with 4GB of High Bandwidth (HBM2) memory in lieu of the base AMD Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory. The AMD Radeon Pro Vega discrete mobile GPUs will provide up to 60% faster graphics performance than the MacBook Pro 15-inch’s base AMD Radeon Pro 560X mobile GPU.

 Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

The AMD Radeon Pro Vega 16 and 20 discrete mobile GPUs do come at a premium with the Vega 16 adding an additional $250 and the Vega 20 adding an additional $350 to the overall cost of the MacBook Pro 15-inch.

When customizing the MacBook Pro 15-inch, be sure to select the MacBook Pro 15-inch model with Touch Bar and Touch ID, 2.6GHz 6-Core Processor, 512GB Storage model with the base AMD Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory (starting price of $2,799) to get the Vega Pro discrete mobile GPUs as a customizable graphics option. If you select the MacBook Pro 15-inch model with Touch Bar and Touch ID, 2.2GHz 6-Core Processor, 256GB Storage with the base AMD Radeon Pro 555X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory (starting price of $2,399), the Vega Pro discrete mobile GPU options will not be available.

With the customization of GPU from the base AMD Radeon Pro 560X to the AMD Radeon Pro Vega 16 or Vega 20 discrete mobile GPUs, you can expect the starting price of the MacBook Pro 15-inch model with Touch Bar and Touch ID, 2.6GHz 6-Core Processor, 512GB Storage model to increase from the base price of $2,799 to $3,049 or $3,149, respectively.

An iPad Pro, a broken headphone jack, an expired AppleCare warranty, oh my!

When I originally bought the first generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, it was intended as a major upgrade from my aging second generation iPad. With the inability to upgrade iOS on my second generation iPad, lack of supported apps for an old version of iOS and terribly sluggish performance on a long discontinued and unsupported device, it was finally time to take the leap and upgrade to a new device.

With the 12.9-inch iPad Pro available, I decided to go with the larger form factor over the traditional 9.7-inch model. The added display real estate made it quite appealing. As I hadn’t upgraded my iPad in years and with Apple products demonstrating longevity, it made sense to invest a little bit more into a device that I’d be using for years to come. That said, I opted to get the 128GB model with Wi-Fi + Cellular, which I believe was the top of the line for the first generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro at the time.

Let me say, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro did not disappoint. The larger display made such a huge difference and the overall performance was fantastic. I practically used my 12.9-inch iPad Pro daily to watch TV, stream videos, surf the web, use apps and so forth. Since I did use my iPad Pro heavily to watch or listen to media content, I used the headphone jack practically every day, so that jack went through quite some wear and tear.

I’ve used plenty of Apple and non-Apple products over the years but it’s been quite some time since I’ve run into a problematic headphone jack let alone a broken headphone jack but that’s exactly what happened to my iPad Pro. One night while using my iPad Pro, I tried to insert my EarPods into the headphone jack, but it would only go about two-thirds of the way in before it got stuck. After a few attempts, I checked the jack and it was clear that there was an obstruction. Something inside the jack either bent or broke off and as a result, the EarPods could not be inserted properly into the headphone jack. Fortunately, the mechanism that detects whether headphones or earphones are inserted into the jack was not detecting that headphones or earphones were inserted; otherwise, the external speakers would not work. I was fortunate for that.

Unfortunately, after checking my warranty status on the Apple website, I discovered that my iPad Pro was no longer under warranty. While I did purchase AppleCare for my iPad Pro, the AppleCare warranty had expired. While I could try to get the headphone jack repaired, the repair cost undoubtedly would not make sense.

So, what were my options?

Well, I had at least three viable options:

I could buy a new iPad. While certainly a viable option, it was not necessarily the most economical though quite tempting with the release of the brand new 2018 11” and 12.9” iPad Pros.

I could use a pair of Apple EarPods with a lightning connector and connect them via the lightning connector in lieu of the headphone jack. This option works if you have an iPad with a lightning connector and iOS 10 or above installed. Apple EarPods with lightning connector cost $29.00.

I could use Apple AirPods or other Bluetooth enabled headphones/earphones to connect wirelessly to the iPad Pro. Apple AirPods cost $159.00.

While I’m not thrilled about the broken headphone jack, there are cost-effective alternatives and workarounds to this unfortunate situation. My first generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro still works great. It’s running Apple’s latest version of iOS - iOS 12 and it’s still incredibly fast and performs extremely well. I hope to continue using this iPad Pro for quite some time.

Adam DeAngelo, Anna Rak & Dustin Pearlman join forces to produce “The Power of Termination,” A Short Film

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to attend The Barrow Group’s Directorial Showcase, an evening of short works directed by students in their One Year Directing Program. One of the works presented was written by Adam DeAngelo and based upon his play “Breaking Up.” The story was deep, moving, emotional, funny, humorous and entertaining all while delving into the world of relationships, behavior, conflict, manipulation and therapy.

A few weeks ago, I was extremely excited to read that my good friend, Anna Rak (actor/producer/director/co-founder & artistic director Eastern Bridge Theatre Troupe), who I got to know while I was an Executive Producer for Eastern Bridge Theatre Troupe’s Foreign Voices Are Us, was joining with Adam DeAngelo (writer) and Dustin Pearlman (cinematographer/producer) to produce a short film, “The Power of Termination,” based upon Adam’s play. Anna will be directing this short film.

About “The Power of Termination”

“The Power of Termination” is a 15-minute narrative short film set in Los Angeles. Erica and Dean, a married couple, attend what they think is their last therapy session when they are surprised to find out about the "termination phase." The movie uncovers the patterns and motives of human behavior when in a dangerous or rather conflicting situation. “The Power of Termination” uses comedy to comment on interpersonal attraction, misuse of power, and conformity. 

As this short film is being produced as an independent production, the film’s Producers have started an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for this project to cover the production costs. Please check out “The Power of Termination” Indiegogo campaign site and if you can, please contribute to the campaign and help make this production possible. There are various contribution levels for which you can earn a perk or simply contribute towards the production to help support independent artists and independent productions. You can also share and spread the word.

I’ve been proud to support several independent productions over the past couple of years including this one, so I invite you to check it out, learn more and help support this production.

Apple’s MacBook Pro 15-inch To Get New Radeon Pro Vega Graphics in November

 Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

Apple’s MacBook Pro 15-inch models will come with new Radeon Pro Vega discrete mobile GPU offerings starting in late November. The MacBook Pro 15-inch models currently offer the AMD Radeon Pro 555X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory and AMD Radeon Pro 560X with 4GB of GDDR5 memory. The new GPU offerings will include the AMD Radeon Pro Vega 16 with 4GB of High Bandwidth (HBM2) memory and the AMD Radeon Pro Vega 20 with 4GB of High Bandwidth (HBM2) memory.

The Vega GPUs will provide up to 60% faster graphics performance than the MacBook Pro 15-inch’s current top mobile GPU offering, the Radeon Pro 560X. The new offerings bring the MacBook Pro 15-inch series GPUs better in line with the iMac Pro series, which currently offer the AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56 and AMD Radeon Pro Vega 64 GPUs.

 Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

The MacBook Pro 15-inch base model currently offers the AMD Radeon Pro 555X as the default GPU with the AMD Radeon Pro 560X available as a configurable upgrade for an additional $100. Pricing for the new Radeon Pro Vega GPU offerings have not been disclosed.

If you’re considering a new MacBook Pro 15-inch and want to take advantage of the new GPU offerings, hang tight until later this month!

Apple’s October 30th Special Event Brings New Macs & iPad Pros

On Tuesday, Apple held its October Special Event with new Macs and iPad Pros taking centerstage. Apple announced long-awaited updates to the MacBook Air and Mac Mini as well as the next generation of iPad Pros. Also announced were companion accessories for the new iPad Pros including the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) and a new Smart Keyboard Folio. Rounding off the event, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the availability of iOS 12.1, which includes Group FaceTime with up to 32 people, support for dual SIM (SIM + eSIM) on the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR, over seventy new emojis along with bug fixes and improvements. Singer-songwriters Lana Del Rey and Jack Antonoff helped close out the event with a special music performance.

 Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

MacBook Air

As highly rumored and anticipated, Apple announced a brand new re-designed and re-engineered 13.3-inch MacBook Air. On the outside, the new MacBook Air is thinner, lighter and utilizes 17% less volume than the previous MacBook Air. It features a high-resolution Retina Display, Touch ID, new keyboard utilizing the butterfly mechanism, standard function keys (no Touch Bar), a Force Touch trackpad with 20% more surface area, new stereo speakers offering 2x the bass and 25% more volume, three microphones, 720p FaceTime camera, two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

On the inside, the new MacBook Air features a new 8th generation Amber Lake 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor (Turbo Boost up to 3.6GHz), Apple’s T2 Security Chip, 128GB SSD Flash Storage (configurable to 256GB, 512GB and 1.5TB), 8GB of 2133MHz LPDDR3 RAM (configurable to 16GB) and Intel UHD Graphics 617.

The new MacBook Air offers up to 12 hours of battery life, weighs 2.75lbs (roughly a quarter pound less than the previous generation) and is made from 100% recycled aluminum. It will be available in three colors: Silver, Space Gray and Gold. The new MacBook Air starts at $1,199 ($200 more than the previous generation but $100 less than the base price of the 12-inch MacBook and 13.3-inch MacBook Pro with function keys) and will be available starting November 7th.

 Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

Mac Mini

Apple announced a new Mac Mini aimed at meeting the continuing needs of Apple users who enjoy the small form factor while giving it some real bite. The new Mac Mini features 8th generation Intel quad-core (starting at 3.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i3) and six-core (starting at 3.0GHz 6-core Intel Core i5 Turbo Boost up to 4.1GHz and configurable up to 3.2GHz 6-core Intel Core i7 Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz) processors offering up to 5x faster system performance, 8GB of 2666MHz DDR SO-DIMM RAM (configurable to 16GB, 32GB and 64GB), 128GB SSD Flash Storage (configurable to 256GB, 512GB, 1TB and 2TB), Intel UHD Graphics 630 offering up to 60% faster graphics, four Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, HDMI 2.0, two USB 3 ports, 3.5mm headphone jack, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Ethernet (configurable up to 10Gb Ethernet), Bluetooth 5.0, the Apple T2 Security Chip and a new thermal architecture.

The new Mac Mini weighs 2.9lbs, comes in Space Gray and the aluminum enclosure is made from 100% recycled aluminum. The new Mac Mini starts at $799 and will be available starting November 7th.

 Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

iPad Pro

Apple announced two new iPad Pros – an 11-inch model and a 12.9-inch model. Both models feature a new edge-to-edge Liquid Retina Display, the same display found on the new iPhone XR. Gone are the Home button, 3.5mm headphone jack and lightning connector. The iPad Pros support the same familiar gestures found on the iPhone X. The lightning connector is replaced with a new USB-C connector which will allow you to connect external displays, cameras and even charge your iPhone from your new iPad Pro. If you’re dead set on using headphones or earphones with a 3.5mm plug, you’ll need to get the new USB-C to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter, which will cost $9.00.

The new iPad Pros also feature Face ID which works in both portrait and landscape mode, an all-new A12X Bionic Chip with the new neural engine offering faster performance and up to 2x faster graphics, support for Apple Pencil (2nd generation) which includes the ability to pair and charge the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) wirelessly and attach the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) magnetically to the new iPad Pros. The Apple Pencil (2nd generation) also supports gesture controls. Also available is the new Smart Keyboard Folio which protects both the front and back side of the new iPad Pros, offers a keyboard and serves a stand with two viewing angles.

The new iPad Pros come in two colors: Silver and Space Gray with storage capacities of 64GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB. Both iPad Pros come in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + Cellular models. The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $999. Both iPad Pros will be available starting on November 7th. The Apple Pencil (2nd generation) will cost $129 and the new Smart Keyboard Folio will cost $179 for the 11-inch iPad Pro and $199 for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Both the new Apple Pencil (2nd generation) and Smart Keyboard Folio will be available on November 7th.

For full product details, technical specifications, pricing and to watch the Apple Keynote, visit Apple’s website.

Get Trained & Certified in Lifesaving Skills

About fifteen years ago, I decided to take a certification class in Standard First Aid & Adult CPR through the American Red Cross. I had thought about taking a class for many years and finally took the initiative to register and attend a class. I didn’t take the class because I required the training for my job/workplace. I took the class because I wanted to learn these important lifesaving skills and have this knowledge should I ever encounter a situation where these skills may be needed. Since then, I’ve continued to train and re-certify every couple of years, as required, to stay current, refresh my skills and maintain my certification.

I remember the first class I ever took was a full day class conducted at the American Red Cross in Greater New York headquarters then located on Amsterdam Avenue. The class was for Standard First Aid & Adult CPR with AED. It ran from 9am to 5pm with a couple of short breaks and a break for lunch. I opted to take the combined class, but you could register for Standard First Aid and Adult CPR with AED as two separate classes. From a cost-savings perspective, the combined class made sense.

The class was instructor-led and incorporated the use of video and hands-on practice/skills sessions. The class covered information and skills including learning how to recognize emergencies, learning about Good Samaritan Laws and obtaining consent before providing care, learning and understanding the emergency action steps (Check-Call-Care), the ABCs (Airway, Breathing, Circulation) and the links in the Cardiac Chain of Survival, learning how to prevent against disease transmission when providing caring, learning how to properly care for various emergencies and life threatening conditions, learning how to properly perform abdominal thrusts, rescue breathing and CPR, learning how to setup and use an AED and much more.

Portions of the class were physically demanding (ex: learning/practicing CPR) and for someone who’s never gone through the exercise before, there was a level of intensity. I remember feeling tired and sore later that evening and the day after from kneeling next to the mannequins for a prolonged period, bending over to practice rescue breathing & giving rescue breaths and from performing chest compressions. That said, the classroom experience simulated what a real world situation might feel like. The instructors were highly skilled, knowledgeable and took the time to make sure every student got the skills portion down during the practice sessions and it was essential to get the skills down to gain certification.

Back then certifications for Standard First Aid at the American Red Cross were valid for three years and certifications for CPR with AED were valid for one year. Today, certifications for both First Aid and CPR with AED are valid for two years; the classes are shorter and more focused on key skills making classes more effective and time efficient. Some classes are also available as hybrid classes where you can take a portion online and then take the physical skills portion at one of the training sites. All the more reason to take the opportunity to register for a class, get trained and certified. Personally, I prefer the instructor-led classes. Like any other skill, if you don’t actively use it, you become rusty, so it doesn’t hurt to get back into a classroom environment to re-learn these skills that may one day help to save a life. I’ve also found that each instructor brings something new to the table so there’s added-value.

Just to clarify, the training and certification I’m referring is for a layperson or lay responder and not a professional rescuer or First Responder. If you require training and certification for a job/workplace, be sure to verify with your job/workplace on the type of training they require and if there are specific organizations from which they will accept certification. In many cases, training and certification from organizations like the American Red Cross and American Heart Association will meet the requirements provided you take the proper training and certification course for your respective job/workplace.

There is a growing initiative to get more people trained in what is called “Hands-Only CPR” or “Compression-Only CPR” which focuses on CPR with chest compressions only whereas conventional CPR incorporates rescue breaths with chest compressions. Hands-Only CPR or Compression-Only CPR is recommended in cases where you have a bystander who sees a teen or adult suddenly collapse. In “Hands-Only CPR” or “Compression-Only CPR,” a bystander simply needs to do two things: First, call 9-1-1. Second, begin chest compressions. Keep in mind that “Hands-Only CPR” or “Compression-Only CPR” does not replace conventional CPR training and certification nor does it meet the requirements for a job/workplace that requires CPR training and certification.

If you want to learn more about these lifesaving skills or want to sign-up to take a class and/or get certified, check out the American Red Cross and American Heart Association.

I’ve got issues . . . with my ISP’s DNS Servers

When an Internet Service Provider (ISP) provisions Internet service, the ISP will typically provide you with two DNS servers – a primary and a secondary (backup) DNS server to use for DNS resolution. If you are experiencing issues with your ISP’s DNS servers, you’ll want to check to see if both DNS servers are problematic (ex: DNS server latency, DNS server times out, errors resolving domain names or hostnames to their respective public IP addresses, etc.).

If your ISP’s primary DNS server is problematic but the secondary (or backup) DNS server is working properly, you can switch the priority between your primary and secondary DNS servers. If your router is setup for DHCP, you’ll need to make the DNS changes on the router and then reboot your computers and devices to ensure they receive the updated DNS changes. If your computer is setup using static IP addressing, you can update the DNS priority in the network settings of your OS. Keep in mind that you should report any issues with your ISP’s DNS servers to the ISP. This will ensure your ISP’s network engineers are aware of the issue, investigate and work towards a resolution.

If both of your ISP’s DNS servers (primary and secondary) are problematic, you can switch to a pair of Public DNS servers offered by reputable providers. Google, CloudFlare and OpenDNS are three popular providers that offer Public DNS servers which you may use in lieu of your ISP’s DNS servers.

The Public DNS servers for Google, CloudFlare and OpenDNS are listed below.

Google Public DNS

8.8.8.8

8.8.4.4

CloudFlare Public DNS

1.1.1.1

1.0.0.1

OpenDNS Public DNS

208.67.222.222

208.67.220.220

Whether you choose to use your ISP’s DNS servers or Public DNS servers from Google, CloudFlare, OpenDNS or other reputable providers is up to you; however, if you are experiencing issues with your ISP’s DNS servers, know that there are reliable Public DNS servers available from reputable providers which you can use on an interim basis until your ISP can resolve the issues with their DNS servers.

“There’s more in the making” . . . Apple announces October 30th Special Event

 Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

A day before pre-orders began for Apple’s all-new iPhone XR, Apple announced a highly rumored and anticipated October Special Event last Thursday. The Special Event will take place in one week on Tuesday, October 30th at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, New York. The event will begin at 10am ET (not PT) and will also be live streamed on Apple’s website.

There have been quite a few rumors about what Apple might showcase at its event next week including new iPad Pros featuring a thinner bezel, Face ID support and the move from a lightning connector to USB-C, a new lower cost replacement for the MacBook Air, a possible refresh for the MacBook and a refresh of the Mac Mini and/or possibly a pro-level Mac Mini.

Will AirPower finally make an appearance or will we at least get an update on its status? Apple first announced AirPower last Fall; however, we have heard little about it since then. Apple also announced that a new wireless charging case for the AirPods was in the works, but it too has yet to make an appearance. A second generation of the AirPods is supposedly in the works as is a second generation Apple Pencil, both of which could be announced at next week’s event.

We’re just a week away from Apple’s October Special Event so stay tuned!

The Wait For iPhone XR Is Almost Over . . . Sort Of!

 Credit: Apple

Credit: Apple

If you’ve been holding off on upgrading your iPhone or mobile phone in hopes of getting your hands on the all-new iPhone XR, the wait is almost over! Pre-orders for the iPhone XR will kick-off this Friday, October 19th with availability beginning on Friday, October 26th.

Apple announced the all-new iPhone XR, along with the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, at their Apple Special Event last month in Cupertino. The iPhone XR is a lower-cost alternative to the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max with a starting price of $749. The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max start at $999 and $1,099, respectively.

The iPhone XR is made from a 7000 Series grade aluminum with a glass back to support wireless charging and is rated IP67 for water resistance meaning it can withstand a drop into water with a maximum depth of one meter for up to thirty minutes. It also features a new 6.1-inch LCD Liquid Retina HD Display, a 7-nanometer A12 Bionic Chip with next generation neural engine (same chip as in the new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max), a single 12MP wide-angle rear camera, 7MP front TrueDepth camera, Smart HDR, Haptic Touch (in lieu of 3D Touch), Face ID and dual SIMs (nano SIM + eSIM). As for battery life, the iPhone XR offers an additional ninety-minutes of battery life over that of the iPhone 8 Plus.

The iPhone XR will be available in a variety of colors including White, Black, Blue, Coral, Yellow and (Product) Red. Storage capacities will include 64GB, 128GB and 256GB. AppleCare+ for iPhone XR will cost $149 if paid in full or $7.99/month for up to 24 months if paid monthly and the new AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss Protection will cost $249 if paid in full or $12.99/month for up to 24 months if paid monthly.

If you plan on pre-ordering the iPhone XR through Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program, Apple recommends that you use the Apple Store app on your iPhone to get pre-approved for the iPhone Upgrade Program before 7pm ET/4pm PT on Thursday, October 18th so you can pre-order and checkout on Friday, October 19th.

Co-Working Spaces, An Option for Startups and Small Businesses

If you’re a startup or small business, finding the right office space for your business can be challenging. In addition, depending on where you are located, commercial office leases can be quite expensive. For commercial leases, landlords will typically require at least three years of financial information (ex: balance sheets, P&Ls, tax returns) from your business as part of the review process. A security deposit will be required at the time of signing (typically two to three months of rent). Landlords will also require the business to show proof of commercial liability insurance coverage and will want the building owner, landlord and management company named on the policy as Additional Insured.

Let’s not forget additional costs that may come with leasing an office space including utilities, cleaning, a HVAC maintenance agreement, property taxes and escalations. Many landlords will also require a lease commitment. While some landlords may allow for short-term leases (1-3 years), many will seek long-term leases (5-10 years).

As a startup or small business, you may consider running your business out of your home. While that may be suitable for some businesses, it certainly won’t be suitable for all. In addition, if your business requires frequent meetings with clients and vendors, having access to a professional office space and conference rooms become a necessity.

Co-working spaces have been growing quickly over the past several years. Companies like Regus, WeWork, TechSpace and The Yard, just to name a few, have swept up commercial real estate spaces and converted these spaces into turnkey co-working office spaces. Offerings may include virtual office space (access to a physical mailing address, phone number, voice mail, call answering service), day passes (day access to the facility, general meeting area, high-speed Internet), dedicated desk or office space of varying sizes (typically requires a monthly fee and commitment terms vary from month-to-month to 3, 6, 9 or 12 month increments) and flexible access to their other facilities and locations.

For startups and small businesses, turnkey co-working space agreements provide greater flexibility than typical commercial lease agreements, which help business owners manage tight operating costs. Co-working spaces may require a security deposit; however, they typically won’t require three years of financial information from the business. The monthly costs will generally be lower than a typical commercial office lease since you are only paying for what you need. Some co-working spaces may require that you carry commercial liability insurance coverage; however, the costs are generally more affordable since the office space will be significantly smaller. Utilities and cleaning services are usually included in the monthly fee and some conference room access (hours) may be included in the monthly fee. Some spaces may also include complimentary coffee, tea and water. Additional services may be purchased a la carte.

All-in-all, co-working spaces don’t sound too bad at all . . . so why even consider leasing a commercial office space?

While co-working spaces can be beneficial in the short-term, there are plenty of reasons why you’ll eventually need to find a suitable commercial office space.

First . . .  SIGNAGE! You’ve worked hard to make a name for yourself and your business so you’ll want your business name prominently up at the entry way to your office space. Unfortunately, the first name you’ll see with most co-working spaces will be the name of the company that provides the co-working space. While you may place signage for your business on the door to your individual space, you typically won’t be able to place any signage in the Reception area for the co-working space. This can be a major drawback for new business and potential business prospects.

Second . . .  Costs can add up quickly! The two major areas where your costs can quickly add up even if your office space needs don’t change will be conference room hours and Internet bandwidth. If you have a monthly agreement in place, it will typically include a fixed number of conference room hours as well as Internet bandwidth. If your business requires meeting with clients or vendors frequently, your conference room hours can add up very quickly. Likewise, if your business requires a lot of Internet bandwidth for uploads, downloads, streaming, etc., you could be faced with a ridiculously high overage bill for your Internet bandwidth usage.

Third . . . PRIVACY! Co-working space means there will be plenty of other businesses sharing the overall office space. Some co-working spaces don’t have fully enclosed offices. This means you can hear the activities of your neighbors. If you are able to find a fully enclosed office space within the co-working space, this might not be a big deal. However, if you happen to be in one of the spaces that are not fully enclosed, you might feel quite uncomfortable discussing business plans, strategies and so forth where nearby neighbors can hear those discussions. Granted, most co-working spaces may include privacy spaces (ex: phone booth-style privacy space); however, if you’re paying a monthly fee for an office space, you shouldn’t have to pop into a phone booth-style privacy space to have a conversation.

One other reason for eventually needing commercial office space is if your business grows, you will outgrow your co-working space. Sure, you may be able to find a larger office space within the co-working space; however, if that happens, you could be paying just as much (probably more) for the co-working space as you would for commercial office space. If that’s the case, finding suitable commercial office space will make much more sense.

Lastly, let’s not ignore the fact that there are alternatives to co-working spaces. For instance, you could lease part of an office space from another tenant (Sublandlord). While similar to a co-working space, the number of other businesses that operate within the office space will be limited, you may be able to work out signage at Reception, there could be more privacy and you can split/share the costs of overhead which will be mutually beneficial to both the Sublandlord and SubTenant.

In A World of Loops and Smart Instruments

A couple of years ago, I began exploring Apple’s GarageBand. First, let me be perfectly clear that I’m not a musician in any way, shape or form. I did learn to play the recorder in Elementary School like some school children (I did not play well!) and then I learned to play the violin for a couple of years and participated in a couple of school performances in Junior High School (I played okay). But that was pretty much the extent of my “music career.”

So, on one January night, I sat down with my iPad, launched GarageBand and started to play around and try to figure out how GarageBand worked and what I could do in the application. I did some research online into GarageBand and eventually got into smart instruments and learned how to use the auto-play control knob to access a preset series of chord progressions within each class of smart instrument. From there, I started to experiment and combined, mixed, matched and edited different smart instruments and chord progressions using auto-play to create some interesting sounds.

Once I got past the initial learning curve, I challenged myself to test my creativity and see if I could create a single track comprised of different smart instruments and chord progressions using auto-play that would sound good. After a bit of exploration, trial and error and lots of time, I came up with my very first track which I called “The Journey.” It took quite some time to figure out an appropriate name for this track, but I eventually got there.

“The Journey” was inspired by a recent road trip that I had taken. While the initial base track took several hours to create, it would take another week or so to refine it until I got it to a point where I was comfortable. I was constantly tweaking the track and found a new appreciation for what professionals in the music industry must go through to put together a track. After creating “The Journey,” I decided to further challenge myself by trying to create a collection of tracks all inspired by my recent road trip. I eventually created tracks including “Charting The Course,” “A Call To Action,” “Reflection in Time,” “Paradise,” “On The Road,” “Onwards” and even an extended version of “The Journey.”

Creating and refining the tracks was just the beginning. I eventually went from creating tracks in GarageBand for iOS to creating and editing those tracks in GarageBand for macOS and then moved over to Logic Pro X. Now to be transparent, the move to Logic Pro X was primarily because I ran into some issues in GarageBand that I was able to solve with Logic Pro X. I also expanded into the world of Apple royalty-free loops, using loops along with smart instruments to create some amazing tracks like “Countdown,” “Discovery” and “Evolution” that I’m proud of.  

What started off as an exploration of Apple’s GarageBand turned into quite an amazing project and learning experience. I certainly don’t expect to win any awards, nor do I think that I fall within the company of the great musicians, composers, artists, performers and music professionals who create music and do this for a living. However, if anything, this project does showcase our potential to learn and explore new things, to open our minds and let our creativity out, to step out of our comfort zone and challenge ourselves beyond our limits.

I am incredibly proud to be able showcase the work from this project. You can listen to some of the tracks from this project by visiting the Media page of this website. Once you are on the Media page, scroll down to the section entitled Music Exploration. I will be adding more tracks from this project soon so please check back for more!

Considerations When Starting A Business: Seeking Professional Counsel

As you get started with your new business, there may come a time when you will need to seek professional counsel from a good business law firm and/or CPA firm. Even if your circumstances may not warrant professional counsel at the onset of your new business, you may eventually need to seek counsel as your business grows. Speaking with a good business law firm and/or CPA firm can help you stay on the straight and narrow and in compliance of the constantly changing local, state and federal regulations, requirements and laws.

Legal Counsel

A good business law firm can provide an array of vital services to your business. They can provide key legal counsel during the initial setup and establishment of your new business, helping you to better understand what the legal implications of your new business venture will be. They can offer important insight to help you operate your business legally and avoid unnecessary risks. They can also serve as a critical line of defense between you, your business and potential third-party litigation.

Business law firms can help you figure out the best legal entity for your business (ex: LLC, Corporation - C-Corp or sub-chapter S), assist with filing the necessary paperwork with the appropriate federal, state and local agencies (ex: Department of State, IRS) to setup the legal entity, prepare Operating or Shareholder agreements specifically customized for your business and act as a designated agent for legal notices. They can help prepare and review contracts/agreements (ex: client contracts, NDAs, merger agreements, employment contracts) and they can step in to provide legal aid/counsel in the event of legal action for or against your business.

CPA Firms

A good CPA firm can provide your business with an array of vital Accounting services. They can provide guidance on the different types of legal entities best suited for your business (ex: LLC, Corporation - C-Corp or sub-chapter S). They can provide insight on the potential tax liabilities and obligations you, as a business owner, should be aware of and can expect. CPA firms can handle a variety of required tax reporting and filings for federal, state and local jurisdictions. They should stay current on all the latest changes to the tax laws and requirements to keep you (and the rest of their clients) compliant and up-to-date on the potential impacts those changes will have on you and your business.

For instance, if your business is a single-member LLC treated as a disregarded entity for tax purposes or a multi-member LLC taxed as a Partnership, the owners or LLC members typically do not take a salary through payroll. An owner of a single-member LLC will take a draw and members of a multi-member LLC taxed as a Partnership will receive what are called Guaranteed Payments in lieu of salary via payroll. In either case, unlike salaries via payroll, payroll taxes are not withheld on the income. As such, owners/LLC members are responsible for making quarterly tax payments to the appropriate federal, state and local tax agencies on the applicable earnings. Failure to make the appropriate payments may result in a huge tax bill and tax penalty at tax time.

In addition, single-member LLCs, multi-member LLCs taxed as Partnerships and corporations taxed as a sub-chapter S (including LLCs that elect to be taxed as a sub-chapter S) are treated as pass through entities for tax purposes whereby the business entities themselves are not taxed. Taxes on income/profit are passed down to the individual owners (usually reported on a Schedule K-1) and reported on their individual tax returns. While LLCs taxed as Partnerships and corporations taxed as a sub-chapter S (including LLCs that elect to be taxed as a sub-chapter S) are not taxed at the entity level, they are still required to file the proper annual Partnership or Corporation tax returns for the applicable tax year.

This is just a scratch on the surface, but you can see how complex the tax obligations and implications can be if you don’t understand how the tax laws affect you and your business and/or have appropriate guidance from a tax professional like a good CPA firm. You and your business can easily fall into a tax maze. A good CPA firm should be an active partner in helping you and your business remain compliant with all applicable tax laws and requirements.

There will be times where it may be necessary for your business law firm and CPA firm to collaborate and work together. For instance, when deciding what type of business entity to form for your business (ex: LLC, Corporation - C-Corp or sub-chapter S), it’s a good idea to get insight from both a legal and an Accounting perspective as different types of business entities will have different requirements and implications. While your law firm and CPA firm won’t necessarily tell you which type of entity to form, they should advise you, make recommendations and offer pros and cons. You’ll want to gain as much insight from their counsel to make a well-informed decision.

It should go without saying that both business law firms and CPA firms can be quite expensive so it’s important to know how and when to properly use these professional resources to avoid unnecessary costs. Far too often, business owners use professional counsel prematurely, fail to use counsel until situations get out of hand, don’t know the right questions to ask and/or how to lead, manage and streamline the conversations. Before you speak with a business law firm or CPA firm, take some time to gather your thoughts and put together an overview of what you want to discuss and the questions you want to ask. Try to keep the conversations on point and focused. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure about something being discussed. At the end of any conversation with a business law firm or CPA firm, you should feel comfortable that you have gotten the answers that you needed to get from the conversation.