Throwback Thursday: A Road Trip Through Nevada, Utah and Arizona

On this throwback Thursday, I’m taking a trip down memory lane, looking back at a road trip that I took a few years ago through Nevada, Utah and Arizona. The trip started in Nevada where I, along with good friends, spent a few days in Las Vegas walking around the city, taking in a couple of shows (The Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil and Penn & Teller at the Rio Theater) and enjoying the atmosphere, food and attractions (ex: Freemont Street Experience, High Roller at the LINQ). While in Nevada, we also went to check out the Hoover Dam.

Next stop was Zion National Park in Utah which was absolutely incredible. I definitely remember how sunny and hot it was. I was looking for shade from the intense sun. Took a lot of great pictures and the scenery was unbelievable. We only spent a few hours in Zion National Park but it was amazing!

In Arizona, we made stops in Page, Sedona and Phoenix. We visited the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, the Glen Canyon Dam, the Lowell Observatory, Red Rock State Park, we took a boat tour on Lake Powell in Page, did the Pink Jeep Broken Arrow Tour in Sedona, visited McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park and the Penske Racing Museum, just to name a few. We had planned to do a hot air balloon ride too, but due to weather, the hot air balloon ride was grounded.

It was a wonderful trip and I look forward to doing it again in the future.

You can check out the highlight video of my road trip below!

Fun Fact: In my post, In A World of Loops and Smart Instruments, I mention that the track “The Journey” was inspired by a recent road trip. This is the road trip that brought about the inspiration for that track along with “Charting The Course,” “A Call To Action,” “Reflection in Time,” “Paradise,” “On The Road,” and “Onwards.” You can check out all these tracks on the Media page under Music Exploration.

Isn’t It Ironic, Don’t You Think? . . . I Mean Seriously!

I was taking a walk over the weekend when I noticed a man and a woman sitting on a stoop huddled together a few feet in front of a shop. It was a cold, partly cloudy, blustery day. Perhaps they were sitting there together waiting for someone. There were numerous shops and restaurants in the area and it was around brunch time, so it didn’t seem out of the ordinary.

As I got closer, my eyes briefly crossed paths with the gentleman’s eyes and looking into his eyes and at his facial expression, I knew there was more to the story . . . something was wrong.

After our eyes crossed paths, I looked down and noticed the two of them holding hands firmly. I looked up towards the woman and noticed she was holding a phone up to her ear. She was nodding, acknowledging the caller on the other end of the line. As I got even closer, I glanced at her face which was filled with distraught and much sadness. I could see that she was crying. The gentleman was trying to comfort her during this ordeal, whatever it was.

As I walked passed them, I couldn’t imagine what she, what they were going through. I didn’t hear anything nor was I attempting to eavesdrop as I passed by; but, I couldn’t help but feel for them during this difficult time.

As I walked into a store a short while later, there was a song playing that was unfamiliar to me, but I kept hearing the following lyrics:

“I need some good news, baby
Feels like the world's gone crazy
Give me some good news, baby
Give it to me, give it to me

I need some good news, baby
'Cause all the world's gone crazy
I need some good news, baby
Give it to me, give it to me”

The song that was playing was “Good News” by Ocean Park Standoff.

I thought to myself . . . Wow, the irony! Seriously!

Getting Ready for the Tax Season

With the holidays passed and the New Year upon us, it’s time to take some proactive steps in preparing for the upcoming tax season. That’s right! Now is a good time to start gathering and organizing all your 2018 financial/tax documents in preparation for the tax season. Don’t wait until it’s time to have your tax returns prepared to start hunting for all the crucial documents. Get a head start now by putting together a checklist of all the applicable documents you’ll need and start building a file if you haven’t already begun to do so.

Everyone has their own tax situation so first and foremost, if you have an Accountant, CPA Firm or Certified Tax Professional, get in touch with them to review 2018 and go over the documents that you’ll need to have ready to provide to them to prepare your tax returns. Due to changes in the tax law last year, you hopefully have been actively communicating with your Accountant, CPA Firm or Certified Tax Professional to discuss any applicable tax changes that could potentially affect you in the upcoming tax season. It’s also a good practice to reach out to your Accountant, CPA Firm or Certified Tax Professional in the fourth quarter of the year (if your Accountant, CPA Firm or Certified Tax Professional has not already done so), to discuss any applicable year-end tax matters and/or appropriate actions that need to be taken prior to year-end.

If you are a business owner, you’ll want to get in touch with your personal Accountant, CPA Firm or Certified Tax Professional to discuss any tax matters, issues or concerns applicable to your personal tax situation while also getting in touch with the company’s Accountant or CPA Firm to make sure the company is on the right track for year-end.

On a personal level, some of the financial/tax documents you should gather include:

  • Form W-2s from all employers that you worked for in 2018. Employers are required to furnish Form W-2s to their employees by January 31, 2019. A Form W-2 is considered “furnished” if it is postmarked by January 31, 2019. Most payroll companies also provide employee access to electronic copies of Form W-2s.

  • Form 1099-MISC from all companies/businesses for which you performed work or services as a non-employee/independent contractor in 2018. Companies/businesses must issue Form 1099-MISC if you were paid $600 or more during the year for work or services performed. Form 1099-MISC must be furnished by January 31, 2019. You are still required to report all applicable income even if you do not receive a Form 1099-MISC.

  • Form 1099-INT from all banks/financial institutions for which you earned interest income in 2018. Banks/financial institutions must issue a Form 1099-INT if you earned $10 or more in interest income during the tax year. You are still required to report all applicable interest income even if you do not receive a Form 1099-INT.

  • If you maintained health coverage through a Health Insurance Marketplace, you should receive a Form 1095-A. If you maintained health coverage through a health insurance provider or non-Applicable Large Employer (non-ALE), you should receive a Form 1095-B. If you maintained health coverage through an Applicable Large Employer (ALE), you should receive a Form 1095-C. These forms provide information regarding the health insurance coverage provided, to whom coverage was provided and when coverage was provided. Except for recipients of Form 1095-A, recipients of Form 1095-B and Form 1095-C generally do not need to wait for these forms to arrive to prepare their tax returns provided you have the information readily available including, who was covered and when, for tax preparation purposes. Keep in mind that for 2018, the Affordable Care Act’s Individual Mandate remains in full force. Individuals who fail to maintain proper health insurance coverage for all of 2018 may be subject to a penalty. You can get more information about these Health Insurance Information/Tax forms on the IRS website.

  • Form 1099-DIV from all financial institutions/brokerages for which you earned dividend income.

  • Form 1099-G if you itemized your deductions in the prior tax year and took advantage of the state/local tax deduction and received a state/local tax refund.

  • Form 1099-R if you received a distribution from a retirement plan, pension plan, profit sharing plan, etc.

  • Form 5498 if you made contributions to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

  • Schedule K-1 if you are a member of a multi-member LLC, LLC taxed as a sub-chapter S or a shareholder of a sub-chapter S.

  • Copies of donation confirmation/acknowledgment letters for tax-deductible donations made to qualified charitable organizations.

The list above is not intended to be a complete list of the financial/tax documents that you may need for the preparation of your tax returns nor does it necessarily reflect all the financial/tax documents that are applicable to your specific tax situation. Again, speak with your Accountant, CPA Firm or Certified Tax Professional to review the financial/tax documents that you should gather in preparation for the current tax season. If you prepare your own tax returns, look through the financial/tax documents you received last year while accounting for any applicable changes made in 2018 (ex: opening a new savings or brokerage account, working for more than one employer within the same tax year) as you put together your checklist and gather your financial/tax documents.

A little early preparation and staying proactive can go a long way in helping to make this tax season go smoother and be less stressful!

So Long, Farewell, Goodbye and Thank You 2018!

On this New Year’s Eve, we are once again on the cusp of bidding adieu to the old year and welcoming in the New Year. Not unlike its predecessors, 2018 was filled with its ups and downs, highs and lows, best and worst, good and bad, happy and sad, trials and tribulations and so much more.

For me, 2018 began like a roller coaster – a bumpy wild ride filled with uncertainty and unknowns. But, it also opened the doors and my eyes to new possibilities. It was a chance for me to explore new opportunities and find inspiration and motivation to pursue new projects that were interesting, engaging, exciting, fun and for which I was truly passionate about.

I was able to build and launch this website; something which I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. I was able to write more through my blog and share knowledge, experience, ideas, thoughts and recommendations. I was able to dedicate and devote more time towards content creation and production, working on projects that were fun and enjoyable.

As I look back and reflect on 2018, I recall the challenging times, but they didn’t dampen my spirit, my passion, my focus or my determination. They strengthened my resolve to push ahead, to push forward. I accomplished some great things in 2018 and I look forward to carrying the momentum into the New Year and accomplishing more in 2019. I hope you’ll do the same!

Happy New Year!

Welcome Back, LABELED! Season 2 Premieres

LABELED_Logo_White_on_Black.JPG

After last year’s cliffhanger season finale to close out Season 1, the hilariously funny comedy web series, LABELED, is back with Season 2! The Season 2 premiere debuted on Christmas Day.

LABELED is a comedy web series from co-creators and co-producers, Bethany Watson (actor/producer/voice-over artist, co-host of An Acquired Taste Podcast) and Jon Sosis (writer/producer/director/Say It Ain’t Sosis Productions). The series follows a group of low-level employees at a major NYC record label dealing with the high-level, big world problems at their label and in their industry.

Season 2 sees the return of the team at East Pacific Records, including Jess (Bethany Watson), Ellie (Palmyra Mattner), Diane (Kelsea Baker), Paul (Bry Poole), Kirby (Jerica Young), Stu (Robert Lee Leng), George (Jason Taylor) and more, dealing with a major shakeup at the label, new chaos and more drama. The Season 2 opener doesn’t miss a beat, so you can expect a brand-new season of hilarious hijinks that will have you laughing every episode, all season long. The LABELED Season 2 premiere also features a sneak peek into the LABELED spin-off web series, ANYA MARINA: INDIE-PENDENT WOMAN, starring Anya Marina and Nigel Fullerton, due to drop in February 2019.

I had the opportunity to watch Anya perform live last month and see a screening of the first episode of her web series. Anya is an incredibly talented singer/songwriter/musician and she is hilariously funny so stay tuned for ANYA MARINA: INDIE-PENDENT WOMAN.

One final noteworthy mention is the new LABELED Store on Teespring. If you are a fan of the web series, head over to the new store to check out the LABELED merch, show your LABELED pride and help support future production of LABELED.

Ready to watch LABELED? Check out the links below:

Watch the LABELED Season 2 Premiere

Watch LABELED Season 1 streaming exclusively on The Warner Sound’s YouTube Channel

Watch the LABELED Cutting Room Floor (Gag Reel)

Holiday Classics That Will Warm Your Heart

There are so many aspects of the holiday season that make this time of year, the most wonderful time of the year, including the holiday classics. You know, those great holiday classic movies or TV specials that you watch year after year and which never seem to get old. Those holiday classics that hold a special place in your heart and have become part of your holiday tradition, a tradition that you will pass along to future generations.

Here are five of my favorite holiday classics that I enjoy during the holiday season. Check them out and maybe consider adding them to your holiday classics collection.

Happy Holidays!

Note: The covers below include Affiliate Links. Please review the section entitled "Affiliate Links" in the Terms of Use of this website for additional information. Firefox users may need to disable Content Blocking to properly view the content on this page.

 

Making Investments in Your Business in the New Year

As we prepare to close out the year, business owners should take the time to evaluate their current business operations to determine what investments they need to make in their business heading into the New Year and begin planning & budgeting for those investments. This includes investing in staff (ex: hiring additional employees, employee training & education, health & wellness programs, incentives & retention programs), investing in technology (ex: computers, servers, software, storage, network equipment) and investing in infrastructure (ex: office/office space, furniture, fixtures) just to name a few.

While planning and budgeting for potential investments does not guarantee that business owners will be able make those investments into their business at any specific time (ex: due to financial constraints, weak business performance, unforeseen circumstances), business owners should still be proactive rather than reactive. Perhaps the investments may not occur in the first or second quarter of the year but may be possible in the third quarter.

In some situations, business owners may need to front-load the investments to achieve future business performance gains. For instance, if your business is a design firm relying heavily on up-to-date technology, but you are running outdated computers and software, you’ll need to make investments in technology to get updated computers and software NOW, so you can get the work done. If you can’t get the work done, your business will be unable to stay afloat. Likewise, business owners may need to hire an additional employee to help in critical areas to get work done and meet timetables. The successful completion of a client project can result in future projects (and additional income) but failure could mean the loss of the client (and loss of significant income). In these situations, business owners MUST make the investments immediately rather than postpone or delay them to a later date.

To help manage the business, business owners should utilize financial projections. Income projections (and if needed, cash flow projections) can be an extremely useful tool in helping to manage the business but keep in mind that projections are exactly that – A PROJECTION. The more reliable financial information that you have available, the better your projections will be; however, projections are NOT SET IN STONE!

Business owners who are unfamiliar with financial projections should work with their lead or senior Accounting/Finance person (ex: CFO, Director of Finance, Accounting Manager, Head of Accounting/Finance) to create/prepare financial projections for the business for the upcoming year. If you don’t have a lead or senior Accounting/Finance person, consult with your Accountant or CPA Firm for guidance. While preparing financial projections is not overly difficult, it does require a level of experience.

Employee Bonuses Are Taxable Income

Now that the holidays have arrived and with year-end fast approaching, as a business owner, you may be considering distributing year-end bonuses to employees as a show of appreciation for their passion and dedication to the business this past year. It’s important to remember that bonuses are treated as taxable income and should be processed and reported accordingly.

You should process your year-end bonuses through payroll and follow standard payroll practices to ensure the proper tax withholding for federal income tax, state & local income tax and FICA (Medicare & Social Security Tax). Generally, bonuses can either be run as an additional payroll outside of your normal payroll cycle or added to one of your normal year-end payrolls.

If you plan on running an additional payroll, check with your payroll company on how to submit the additional bonus payroll. Your payroll company will usually require bonus payrolls (or additional payrolls outside of your normal payroll cycle) to be submitted several days in advance of your regularly scheduled payroll. Pay close attention to the payroll submission due dates to ensure your bonus and year-end payrolls are submitted on a timely basis. Also, make sure your business bank account is adequately funded to cover your added year-end business expenditures.

If you have questions or concerns regarding the proper handling of bonus income, check with your payroll representative and/or your business tax professional (Accountant/CPA firm).

Last Minute Holiday Gifts and Stocking Stuffers

When it comes to the holiday shopping season, I like to get my Christmas shopping done early so I can avoid the last minute rush and spend time enjoying the holidays rather than stressing over them.

If you tend to procrastinate when it comes to holiday shopping or just need some last minute gift ideas, stocking stuffer suggestions or maybe even a gift to treat yourself, I’ve put together some items that may be worth consideration.

Check them out below and Happy Holidays!

Note: The items below include Affiliate Links. Please review the section entitled "Affiliate Links" in the Terms of Use of this website for additional information. Firefox users may need to disable Content Blocking to properly view the content on this page.

FOR THE CONTENT CREATORS

FOR THE TECH ENTHUSIASTS

FOR THE FUN OF IT

FOR THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

FOR THE ALWAYS ON-THE-GO

FOR THE GADGETS & THE GIZMOS

FOR THE UNDECIDED . . . LET THEM CHOOSE THEIR OWN

 

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 album covers below include Affiliate Links. Please review the section entitled "Affiliate Links" in the Terms of Use of this website for additional information. Firefox users may need to disable Content Blocking to properly view the content on this page.

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

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.

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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 (White) - https://amzn.to/2DujxEk

Anker PowerWave 7.5 Pad (Black) - https://amzn.to/2W13c0z

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

Apple EarPods with Lightning Connector - https://amzn.to/2TR6Jwu

Apple AirPods - https://amzn.to/2U0MLjb

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.