Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Seasons Greetings (2013)


Image Credit: NASA

I wasn't sure if I was going to write a year-end post. My hesitation was not out of any negativity, but more of a feeling like maybe the concept has run its course.

This picture of Earth popped up in my news feed today and I thought about perspective. It is good to change it sometimes and it is good to document where you are at now for a revisit later.

I am not going to give some big ra-ra speech about change or making the best of your situation. That was last year, I hope your situation is better this year, and I hope it is even better next year. But that is on you and lady luck.

I am pretty damn thankful for where I am at in life right now. I enjoy my family and the thought processes that go along with raising children. Wanting them to have all of the good things that make you who you are and none of the bad... and then cringing when you see those bad traits bubble out. Genetics, aren't they grand?

Not to soap box, but I have said this in real life a few times and have been meaning to document it on a blog somewhere. Even though I am clearly enjoying being a parent, it is not for everyone. Your parents, your religion, your government want you to keep pumping out red blooded whatever-the-hell-you-are and if that is the key to your happiness - awesome, but it isn't the only way to lead an interesting and fulfilling life.

You have options - explore all of them so you feel good about the decisions you do make.

And that is a hell of a segue to whatever scrap of a message I do have this year. Make informed decisions. At work, at home, and in the infinite daily interactions you have with the masses. Be informed. Stay informed. Educate those around you. Rinse and repeat.

You will make the world a better place, if not for everyone, at least it will be better for me.

I will end this year with this visual... just remember where we are all sitting in the grand scheme of everything:



I hope 2014 brings you whatever you are looking for. Happy New Year!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Why I switched to T-Mobile

( @tmobile @googlenexus )


I had this conversation with so many people in the last year that I decided to capture it and publish it on my blog.

Around this time last year, my 2-year contract with Verizon was up and I was looking to renew and get new phones. Then I received a letter stating that they were switching us to a family-share plan once we selected new phones. We would be moving from unlimited data to a 4GB shared plan. Also, my plan was going to go up about $10 per month.

I was furious.

My wife and I didn't come close to using 4GB (we usually averaged 400 MB), but I didn't like that the unlimited data plan was going away and that I was being charged more for what I considered to be less (plus the smart phone I had at the time sucked and I assumed a new phone would eat more data). For the first time in 6 years I started shopping around.

Also around this time, Google announced they were selling a completely unlocked phone called the Nexus 4 for $300 (no contracts). An unlocked smart phone with a perfect android experience that gets updates immediately directly from Google? That sounded perfect. But the phone was not compatible with Verizon. Yet another reason to start looking around.

I started calling companies that the Nexus 4 would work with. AT&T ended up being just as much as Verizon. My wife suggest calling T-Mobile but I hesitated. Even though Verizon has the best coverage nationally, I did not have a great signal in my house. I assumed that if Verizon gave me problems, T-Mobile would have absolutely no signal in my area. I looked up their coverage map and my house was in a dark green area (excellent coverage). Then I checked work...dark green again. Then I started looking at places we go to frequently...all dark green.

Not to belabor the point, we decided to give T-Mobile a shot and cancel if we had a bad experience. I am going to be honest, we almost did. Getting the right sim cards (mini) and an issue with the first payment time almost derailed the whole thing. Several days/hours on the phone with their customer support was like shoving nails in my eyes, but I powered through it. In the end, we settled on an unlimited everything plan (data, voice, text) and I am saving $90 per month.

The coverage has exceeded my best expectations. I always have a great signal in the places I am the most. I have also been traveling quite a bit for work and haven't had any issues (unless I am in a basement or heavy concrete building). Also, instead of having a phone where I am always saying "I wish my phone did that", the Nexus 4 is constantly surprising me with some useful thing it does in the background (like Google Now's ability to automatically check flight status, traffic, and even hotel reservations).

I rarely experience situations where making switches like this ends up being dramatically better (there is almost always a compromise). By switching to T-Mobile and buying a Nexus phone I saved money, actually got better mobile performance, and was able to shove it to a company that I didn't feel was treating me well. I have been using the service for 10 months and had no issues. Last week T-Mobile announced it was ending roaming charges internationally. Another move that tells me this company wants to be competitive and understands what is driving customers away from other mobile providers. I thought it was a good time to share my experience and offer my suggestion.

So that is my (completely not paid for or sponsored by) opinion, I hope it helps.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Wine Day 2013



Family Wine making day. I was really lazy this year and didn't take that much footage, had to really stretch it out.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Computer Joey: GTD: Calendars



Getting things done, also referred to as GTD is a popular term on the internet. Most people want to be more organized and save time doing simple tasks. There is a massive amount of material and information available on the internet to help you become more efficient, and today I am going to show you my favorite GTD tool:

Google Calendar

Many of my readers (and friends) are probably already using this service, but for those of you that are not, let me walk you through some of the basics and why I like it so much.

Google Calendar (gCal) comes free with a standard gmail account (also free). Under the hood there are several little tools that come in handy when you are trying to manage a busy social calendar (or three people's social calendar).
  1. Sharing: You can share your calendar with friends and family so they can see when you are available and what you are up to. This is awesome when you are trying to plan an evening out with busy people. It also helps when you are trying to figure out where the kids need to be a 6 PM tonight.
  2. Invitations: Don't want to share? That's fine, you can just invite your spouse, kids, or friends to an event on your calendar and all of the information will appear on their own personal calendar.
  3. Text Reminders: Don't have a fancy smart phone? NO PROBLEM! You can easily set gCal to send you simple text reminders. I personally have all of my friend's birthdays set to send a reminder a few days before their birthday so I don't forget.

Everything in gCal is fairly simple to use and configure, but I took a few screen shots in order to show you how to share your calendar with a loved one:

STEP ONE: Go to calendar.google.com and sign in or sign up for a new account

This is the first screen you will see and you can put your mobile phone information in here so you can get your updates on the go (if you don't have a smart phone). Add your information and follow the screens. When you are done, it will take you to the main calendar page.

STEP TWO: Go into Calendar Settings

Click on the GEAR icon and select the settings option.
When the next window opens, click on the calendar tab:


STEP THREE: Click on share this Calendar


STEP FOUR: Type the Google email of the person you want to share your calendar with (has to be another google account).


Follow the screens out and you are all set to share calendar invites with another person.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chug: The next installment of "Three Sheets"

( @DrinkingMadeEasy )



My editors over at Drinking Made Easy asked me to post here on my private blog about a potential new drinking show called "Chug". Basically, it is "Three Sheets" but traveling by train. Sounds good to me. Here is the press release:

Zane Lamprey Announces Kickstarter Campaign for International Drinking Show, “Chug!”

For Immediate Release – April 22, 2013

TV host and world drinking ambassador, Zane Lamprey, has announced a Kickstarter project to produce “Chug!” a new international drinking travel show. Similar to his previous international drinking show, “Three Sheets” (Travel Channel, SpikeTV), Lamprey will drink with locals as he learns about a region’s drinking cultures and customs. However, in “Chug!”, Lamprey will begin each episode by arriving by train (hence the name).

The Kickstarter project will end on May 31st. Supporters of the project will receive a number of rewards, such as episodes, limited-edition merchandise, invitations to launch parties, and even an appearance in the show itself.

To learn more or to contribute to the campaign, head over to http://chug.tv

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Babycenter roundup: Week of April 7th

@babycenter


Opinion: Is fighting okay?

Is it ever okay for kids to get into physical altercations?

Personal: Too busy parenting to socialize

Article about not socializing too much due to the baby's schedule.

News: NJ bans tanning beds

I basically make fun of the real house wives of NJ and "Tan Mom".

Opinion: Can you outsource parenting?

The comments about this one got pretty wild. Interesting post.

News: Kids and Google Glass

Article about the potential social innovations with children that Google Glass could create.

Opinion: Dangerous houses and tiny rebels

Post about the differences between parenting today and of years past.

News: Another kid with a mohawk makes headlines

Covering another story about a kid getting suspended for having an alternative haircut.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Babycenter roundup:Week of March 31st



I have been lazy and haven't posted links to several articles I wrote for Babycenter over the last few weeks. Here is a run down (I do this for my own archival purposes too).

News: Violence, video games, and all the voices

An article on a new study about video game violence and actual violence in children.

News: Should children be forced to exercise?

A reaction piece to an article detailing the trend of parents forcing children to exercise.

Personal: When are you having another?

Lisa gave me the idea for this article. I think you can figure out the topic.

News: Do chores together, stay together?

Reaction article on a study that finds couples that split the same task have better marriages.

Personal: From crib to toddler bed...

Personal story about me converting Ben's crib into a toddler bed and getting the safety gate up around the stairs.