Marketing podcast, PreneurCast, is for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. Each week, author and marketer Pete Williams and digital media producer Dom Goucher discuss entrepreneurship, business, internet marketing and productivity.
With the Holiday Season upon us, Pete and Dom give an eclectic run-down of their favourite gear, gadgets and software that have caught their eye. There’s something here for all tastes and budgets!
Pete and Dom gives their guide on what to give during the holiday season
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Episode 083: Holiday Gift Guide
Dom Goucher: Hi everyone, and welcome to this special holiday edition of PreneurCast with me, Dom Goucher and him, Pete Williams.
Pete Williams: Happy Chrismukkah!
Dom: You know, that could be one of the first made-up words you’ve done for a while, Pete.
Pete: I didn’t make that up. It’s off… not Dawson’s Creek, one of those Laguna Beach-type shows [The OC].
Dom: You know I have no idea what you’re talking about, right?
Dom: Good-o. Moving swiftly on! Okay, folks, this week…
Pete: What’s the Seinfeld version of that?
Dom: Nope, sorry. Nope, still lost me.
Pete: Chrismukkah. Didn’t Seinfeld make up a name that matched or molded Christmas and Hanukkah together [Festivus]?
Dom: I haven’t said this for a while, but put the shovel down. Step away from the hole. Moving swiftly on—folks, this week, we are right on the edge of December, which universally is being known these days as holiday season. Pete and I have just got back from America where you folks have already kicked off your holiday season.
You’ve had your Thanksgiving, and the Christmas trees are starting to be put up and decorated already. So we thought we’d put together a bit of a Holiday Gift Guide. As you know, Pete and I are a bit of tech freaks, between us. We love all things shiny and gadgety.
And we also love things that make life easier for us all, so we thought we’d give you some recommendations, things that we’ve either got and we use or things that we’re looking at that are interesting to us and that you might find interesting, whether it’s a gift for you or someone you know who is also a bit geeky and technical. So Pete, do you want to kick off with your first thing that’s caught your eye?
Pete: Yeah, it’s something that we found or I saw when we were in Florida recently hanging out with Rich and the Strategic Profits team. He has this really cool, for want of a better term, a laptop stand and it’s called the iCraze laptop stand. And the really cool thing about it is it’s got bendable legs.
I’m probably going to do a very horrible job of explaining this, but I definitely suggest everyone go and check it out, because where the legs enable you to do is basically change the position and the angle and the style of this laptop stand on the fly. So if you’re sitting on the couch, you can put it there so it’s more of like an old-school little table that sits above your lap.
If you are a desk and you want to make it like a standing desk, you can adjust the legs so it gives you that extension. It’s like a standing desk. You can put it on angles if you’re lying in bed, you want to have that on the right angle—and it’s really cool.
It’s just a very, very versatile, very, very cost-effective laptop stand. There are some holes in the bottom so it gives the ventilation for the laptop. And I love that idea, because I’m going to start using mine for whether I’m going to be in bed, on the couch, if I’m going to be outside on the patio at the new house, here, doing some work. It’s very flexible and looks really cool and fun, and easy to use.
Dom: Yeah, and sorry. Just to point out for everybody, below this episode, we’re going to have a list of everything that we talk about and links where you can find out more about them in the show notes, either in iTunes or over on PreneurMedia.tv. So, do check out that below.
Don’t worry about scribbling down what we’re talking about because we’ll give you a little list below the episode. So, yep, great tip, Pete. A laptop stand is a very handy thing to have, and I did look at Rich’s. It’s hard to describe, but yeah, it folds up and collapses and extends, and does all kinds of interesting things. The iCraze laptop stand.
Now, speaking of laptops, I haven’t really talked about this because we’re not really a technology show, so I don’t tend to go on too much about technology. But as part of the moving about that we’ve done this year, we’ve done an often lot of travel. I invested in a new laptop and I really took a bit of a risk on a recommendation from a couple of people, and I picked up a MacBook Air.
Now, hopefully everyone by now realizes, but the majority of my work is media production. It’s video and audio editing, I’m producing all kinds of screencasts, screen recordings, what people would consider to be heavy weight work. When I was looking at a laptop, I was always looking at the top-end of the range.
What people would consider the really expensive things, just to make sure it would absolutely do the job. Well, I’m pleased to report that I’ve basically moved away from my desktop machine and even right now, even though I’ve set up my desk in my home office, I’ve got my huge iMac on the desk in front of me, but it’s switched off.
I’m recording the podcast on my MacBook Air—and I’ve basically been working full time for the last four of five months now, just on a MacBook Air. It does absolutely everything that I want it to.
Pete: Well, let me ask you this, mate. From my perspective, you know how I work and my workflow because we do much together and we spent a fair bit of time hanging out in Florida in the last six months. What’s your take? Because the last two laptops I’ve bought have been my MacBook Pro, and I have literally gone and, pardon-the-pun, Mac’ed them out in terms of going and customizing the best of everything.
Top of the line screen, the biggest hard drive, the most RAM. It’s like a $5,500 or $5,000 investment for the MacBook Pros I’ve bought historically. This one I’ve got right now, I’ve had for probably 18 months. This is the reason I do spend $5,000 or so on my laptops. I do run them into the ground before I turn them over.
As much as people assume I’m techy, it’s tools for me. If the tool still works, I’m not going to replace it for the sake of replacing it. I still don’t have an iPhone 5 because I cannot see any benefit in adding an iPhone 5 to my workflow or my life, so I’m not going to waste time investing in some things like that.
So, my question for you is, when I replace this laptop (which is going to be in the next couple of months) would you suggest, based on my workflow, which is primarily just web-based stuff—e-mail, using the Office Suite or the Mac-equivalent, and a fair bit of recording on screen (but not too much heavy editing because of what you and the team do for me). What would your suggestion be? Would you suggest for me to go to an Air these days?
Dom: Absolutely. Honestly, unless you are a media-production professional (and bear in mind, that includes me). We worked on Profit Hacks, the product that we’ve just developed with Rich, we worked on that together. I produced all of the media, between me and my team, we produced all of the media for that product.
And I used the Air. That’s what I used. I produced an entire video-based information product with an awful lot of videos, an awful lot of content using all kinds of different software, all on the Air. The only thing I would say about the Air, and I would say this pretty much about any laptop anyway.
This is an absolutely standard, off-the-shelf one as well. It’s not been upgraded in any way. I haven’t even gotten more memory in it. I just bought a little external hard drive, and I keep all the files on that. That’s just me being me, because I work on really big files, and that’s the biggest complaint that people have about MacBook Airs, is they think their hard drives are a bit small.
Pete: What’s the biggest hard drive you can get? Do you know?
Dom: Oh, it’s going to change. By the time you buy yours, it’ll change again. And we’re getting into really technical, esoteric stuff. Trust me, whatever it is, it’s not worth it. Don’t spend the money to upgrade the hard drive, just get an external one. They’re dirt cheap.
Pete: Fair enough.
Dom: Honestly, I can really strongly recommend the MacBook Air. It’s not the cheapest Mac laptop you can buy. And if you want to get really, really technical about it, you could argue the case for the new13” MacBook Pro because they’re approximately the same price and approximately the same size, and approximately the same weight.
One does one job a little bit better and another does another job a little bit better, but they’re so close now. And this is basically the bottom of the range. This is why I’m bringing it up, as a Holiday Gift Guide. I do think, now, that the power for the average user (and average to high-end user) is at such a reasonable rate, this concept of $5,000 investment in hardware is going away.
Pete: The argument always is, if you’re a hairdresser, you’re going to buy the sharpest scissors because you use them every day. My MacBook Pro literally gets a workout for, on average, 12 hours a day of actual me in front of it working. Yes, people, I am a workaholic, if you haven’t realized that already.
I just travel with it everywhere. I get up in the morning, it’s what I work on at home. If I head into the office, it’s what I work on for the day at the office. Then I come home and do another hour or so at night on it. I’ve probably got on average just between 10 and 12 hours of work, every single day for 500, 600 days before I look at replacing it.
So, I’ve always gone for that sharpest pair of scissors-type approach. And this is where I’m now thinking, is it better to get a cheaper MacBook Pro and burn it out in nine months and then upgrade again, and have that same investment over an 18-month period, but just divide it by two machines rather than Mac’ing out one machine?
Dom: But this is it, the thing with MacBook Air is there’s literally no moving parts. Literally no moving parts, nothing to wear out, other than the possibility that if you really, really hammer it hard and the fan kicks in, there’s the potential that you might blow a fan. But seriously, you’re not going to wear these things out anymore.
Honestly, one of the things I’ve found (and it sounds a little bit fictitious, but it’s not; it’s the truth), I found that I had to keep checking my bag to make sure I’d picked the laptop up, because they’re so light. Your MacBook Pro, I’ve picked it up, it’s a big chunk of metal.
Pete: It’s not light by any means.
Dom: But for somebody that uses, that wants portability, it’s always there. It moves quickly, it’s responsive. I can’t recommend it enough. I realize that there are some people listening to this thinking that it’s all well and good for me to say this. It’s still a lot of money to spend on a machine, but your point is really important and really valid, and that is it’s a tool.
This is a tool to me. I didn’t buy it because it’s shiny and pretty. I bought it because it was the best tool for the job and the most cost-effective one, as well. And I’m going to get years of usage out of this machine, I’ve already got five months of more hours a day than you’ve put in on yours, with harder work out of this laptop.
As far as I’m concerned, this laptop paid for itself in about a month. If you’re doing this work, or it’s the dominant thing that you do, as a knowledge worker or an information manipulator or producer, this is your tool of the trade. It’s not a lot of money to invest in a business when you spread it out across two or three years.
Pete: And that’s the way it is. Anybody who listens to this show, whether you’re an online marketer or you own your own small business, then you’re working all day. One of the biggest tools for anybody these days is their computer or their laptop. So you want to make sure you have the best tool to give you the most efficient and effective results you want. Otherwise, you’re hampering your business.
Dom: Oh, and just one more thing. You look at a MacBook Air and it may be two or three times the cost of the laptop that you’re currently looking at in Best Buy or in your local supermarket. It may be that, but those things that they sell in supermarkets, you really need to buy two or three of those in the lifetime of a machine that you spend the right amount of money on.
They will die. They will fall apart. They are made of solid, completely end-to-end, of plastic. They’re going to keel over, they’re not going to be strong enough and beefy enough to do the jobs you want them to do. So, when it becomes a business decision, then choose an appropriate business level tool. Anyway, I think that’s a bit enough of soap box on that one, I think, mate.
Pete: Well, let me throw out another one on my gift guide recommendation, and that’s the Doxie [Go] scanner. I think we’ve spoken about it here on the show before. The really cool thing I love about my Doxie scanner is it’s just an everyday scanner. The downfall, to be completely up front about it, is it only allows you to scan one page at a time.
It doesn’t allow you to do books or anything like that, so it’s a single sheet feeder, which does have a few moments of frustration. But for 99% of the scanning I do, I’m scanning single-page stuff. It’s really, really cool. It’s very portable, it’s very light, it’s designed to be taken with you anywhere you go.
And the real killer bit about it is that if you get the Eye-Fi card, which is a little SD card that has Wi-Fi built into it, somehow. I have no idea how it does it, but it’s got like a four-gig card with Wi-Fi. What it allows you to do is scan stuff into the Doxie, and then it will automatically sync those files with your computer, whether it be PC or Mac over Wi-Fi.
There’s no cables required or having to remember to connect it up. You just literally have the Doxie, running wherever it might be, and you can get stuff scanned. And I think we’ve spoken about it before and I still love it. I still use it so often. I think this is a device that’s so cheap that it is a must-have for most entrepreneurs and marketers.
Dom: So, what do you use it for? Why is it a great thing to have?
Pete: Well, the whole paperless argument, I hope is a little redundant these days. Hopefully, most people have realized the benefits of going paperless in their life. I have everything scanned in terms of things that come in the mail that I need to keep or I want to keep, that I can’t get electronically.
They get scanned, and then they get put into places like Evernote, which is my preferred digital filing cabinet (we can talk about that a little bit later if we’ve got time). But I just use it to scan everything from receipts to invoices to notes, and also, more importantly, for swipe-file stuff.
So, if I’m out and about, like I took a number of plane trips back and forth across the country in my recent trip to the US between Rich’s office and the Experts Industry Association event where I spoke, and back to Florida, I was ripping stuff out of magazines and newspapers in the in-flight mags that I thought was good marketing, that I thought was interesting to reread.
And now I’ve got them all torn-out, but I don’t want to go down the old path of having my swipe file in an actual filing cabinet. I want my swipe file in a digital storage device that I can search for, and that’s where Evernote comes in.
Dom: Cool. I used to have scanners all the time, and I moved away from it. But I have to say, I’ve seen you using the Doxie. We talked about it way back when you first got it and you were really excited, and you really do use it. It is that paperless filing, and it’s the paperless swipe file.
You’ve influenced me quite heavily with this, and I started collecting swipe stuff. I mostly take photos with my mobile phone because it’s easy and quick, but a scanner makes a much better copy, whether it’s a business card or an invoice, or as you said, page out of a magazine.
Looking at the Doxie on the site, you can see, they’re designed to fit in your bag, they’re designed to go with you and to be convenient. I do love that extra little techy bit of having the wireless connectivity with that Eye-Fi card, so that’s pretty cool.
Pete: And to me, I think a good litmus test for awesome tech is something that you’re still using regularly, three weeks, three months, six months, 12 months after your initial purchase. Because when you buy some new tech, it’s so super exciting and you play with it and waste time with it for the first couple of weeks. But if you’re still going back to that piece of tech and using it quite regularly, three months after, I think that says a lot about the actual efficiencies and effectiveness of the device.
Dom: Absolutely, absolutely. Just to segue neatly across to my next little piece of kit, I said when I got my MacBook Air, the first thing I did was got a little external hard-drive. The other thing that I did get—and this is my secret weapon. This is the thing that for me makes the MacBook Air capable of doing everything that I want it to do.
My one concern wasn’t the day-to-day functionality being able to use all the different programs like Microsoft Office and also the screen capture activities and podcasting and things like that, but it was the output. Because that’s usually what hammers the machine, it’s what slows the machine down or brings it to its knees and takes a long time whenever you’re producing any video.
I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this before, but I really do think that this is the media producer’s secret weapon, and it’s a little thing. It only works on a Mac. I’m very sorry, people are sick of hearing me say that Macs are great. But I’m sorry, they are.
This only works on a Mac, and it’s by a company called Elgato. It’s a little USB stick. It looks like a normal memory stick, plugs into your USB port, and it’s called the Turbo.264 HD. It doesn’t get more technical sounding than that, does it?
Pete: No, that’s about as tech as it can get.
Dom: It’s about as techy as you can get. Now, try and follow along at home, but what this thing does is it’s literally got a little computer inside of it. And that computer is designed to do one job, and that is to take what you give it, which is hopefully a video file or the output from a program like iMovie or ScreenFlow (which is what we use to record our screencasts).
It takes that information and it makes it into a proper web-ready video file of any description, or an iPad-ready video file, or an iPod or iPhone-size. It comes with its own software. But it is powerful because it appears in the export boxes of things like iMovie and ScreenFlow.
So, where I would normally go to ScreenFlow and say, “Alright, okay, I’ve edited my screencast. I’ve added all the bits and bobs and got all the clever bits done. I want to make a file, one that I can put on the web or put on my iPad.” And normally, I would press ‘go.’
Let’s say it’s a 10-minute recording. I could wait anything up to four times that, for the file to come out of the other end. What this little stick does if you plug it in, is instead of a normal export that you do, you press go, tell it to go to the stick, and it literally zooms out these files. It’s amazing.
Pete: And when we’re talking about a stick, it looks like one of those little USB stick memory cards that you get, you plug into your USB. It is tiny.
Dom: Exactly, it literally looks exactly like a memory stick, USB memory stick. Whatever you want to call it, memory key, memory stick. It sticks in your USB port on your Mac, any Mac. It literally just takes the pressure off the main computer when you’re exporting video.
One side benefit of having this is that if you’ve got something like, for example, I was traveling and I wanted to load up my iPad with videos, which they needed converting, the software that comes with it is pre-built. You just literally grab any old file and drop it on the software on its own, and it’ll turn them into iPad-ready or iPod-ready files, just like that. It’s just a fantastic piece of kit and it’s so, so cheap.
It’s ridiculously cheap for what it does and the improvement it gives you, the speed improvement. It is, as I say, the secret here is it’s my secret weapon. It’s what makes the MacBook Air functional, fully functional as a production unit for me. The Air, on itself, on its own, is fine and great for editing and doing all the day-to-day stuff that I need to do, right the way up to that export point.
But the export was always going to be a sticking point for me, because that’s where the real power of the computer is needed. So, this little Elgato Turbo stick just literally takes that worry away. I plug it in, press export, and zoom. The files are exported in no time at all. It’s amazing.
Pete: Yeah, that’s a great little piece of hardware that’s a must-have if you’re going to have a MacBook Air. I think it’s very, very cool, but only if you’re doing video editing on a regular basis. You can always render out and edit video on the MacBook Air anyway. But it’s not going to be as fast or as efficient if you’re doing it on a regular basis as it would with the Elgato.
Dom: That’s it. If you’re doing one thing a week or you do the odd, occasional thing, then just leave the machine running while you go for your dinner, and it’s fine. But the amount of stuff that I produce, this literally probably saved me days, literally days, in waiting time. And it also means that I can use the computer while it’s doing that as well.
Pete: Very cool.
Dom: Great little tip.
Pete: Awesome. My next one is a really quick and easy one. It’s a pair of headphones, and they’re called Bedphones, as in sleep, bed, bed-phones. What they are is they’re a set of headphones that are designed to be flat. So the whole idea is you can wear them lying in bed and you can fall asleep to an audiobook or a podcast.
Now, historically, what’s the word I should use? I’ve ‘inflicted’ Dan Kennedy and various others onto my beautiful wife, Fleur, over the years, with just playing them through a thing like a JAMBOX or something like that, just on the loud speaker. She now knows all of these guys by voice and never met them.
But with the baby coming along now in a couple of weeks’ time, and Fleur needed to be able to sleep better at night with the bub in her tummy, I’ve been forced, so to speak, to not listen to this stuff in loud-speaker mode. Bedphones have been great. They’re very, very comfortable.
You just whip them over your ears and they’re designed to be flat, so you can lay on your side, on the pillow, and not have sore ear. I think anybody who’s tried to use the normal iPhone or iPod headphones or any general headphones lying in bed, it just doesn’t work; it’s just not comfortable, you can’t get that enjoyment out of it, so these Bedphones are being designed solely to overcome that problem.
They’re very, very cost-effective, but I’ve found them absolutely awesome. So if you’re the type of person like me who likes to, or would like to fall asleep and lie in bed at night, and just listen to a podcast episode like this or an audiobook from Audible, Bedphones are an awesome, awesome, cheap little tool or hack to be able to give you that outcome in a comfortable way. That’s my really down-and-dirty quick gift suggestion for 2012.
Dom: Cool, and the first time you told me about those, I thought you were joking. I really did. And then I went and looked them up and they’re really cool. It’s a really clever idea. Because, doing what I do, I spend a lot of time listening, listening to audio. I’ve picked up the audiobook bug from you.
But I have a slightly different recommendation on the headphone front, just coming from where I come from, I really, I literally live with a pair of headphones by a company called Shure [SE215-CL Sound Isolating Earphones]. Now, if you have anything to do with audio and the music industry specifically, you might have heard of Shure, S-H-U-R-E.
They’re the people that make a lot of equipment for the music industry like microphones and ear pieces, like you see when a professional musician’s on the stage. They have that thing that basically blocks up their ear so that they can hear themselves while they’re on a stage, and they can’t hear everything else.
The headphones that I use are a variant of that. They have these little squishy earplug-type attachments on them that goes in your ear. It’s an acquired taste—don’t get me wrong. My girlfriend doesn’t like them at all. But the great thing is that when I put these in, I literally cannot hear anything at all outside.
Unless it’s a really loud noise or it’s causing a vibration. So, the great thing there is that I can have the actual sound on really, really low. I don’t have to put the sound up to overcome any outside noise. If I’m working remotely, if I’m in someone’s office like we worked in Rich’s office extensively over the last month, it was great for me not to have to find a special place to sit and work.
I just put these headphones in and I was away. Although I did miss a few opportunities where people asked me if I wanted a cup of coffee and I didn’t hear them. But the other benefit of these is when you’re on a plane. You know how people use those really expensive noise-canceling headphones on planes?
They do work, they’re great, but they’re expensive. I just put these in and it has exactly the same effect. So I can’t hear that background hum that you get on the plane because it’s blocked out by these things sealed in my ears. They’re just absolutely fantastic.
They’re not cheap—don’t get me wrong—they’re not cheap. But they last forever. As I say, again, it’s that thing—if you use something every day, then you really should pay the money and pay the best that you can. And this is again part of my work.
Pete: Tax deduction. Not that you need financial advice, but if you need it for work, it should be a tax deduction if you ask your accountant nicely.
Dom: Yeah, we may edit that out of the Holiday Gift Guide. Moving swiftly on. What else you got for us, then, Pete?
Pete: I’m going old-school, I’m going to go old-school here and not talk about anything new. I’m going to go way back in time, way back in time and talk about the iPod nanos [iPod Shuffle]. This is something that a lot of people, this is a pet peeve of mine. I find it really frustrating when I’m out running and seeing people running with their iPhones strapped to their arm.
Dom: That is so funny to see that.
Pete: I get it and I can understand it, and yes, it gives you your tracking if you’re using the app. But ugh, that would frustrate the heck out of me trying to run with one of those things on my arm. It would just be so, so uncomfortable. I’ve got my Nike+ SportWatch which does my GPS stuff for me.
Because of the Ironman stuff I do, that level of technology in that area works well for me. But I really do believe that anybody who’s trying to get fit, whether it’s just walking, doing a Couch-to-5K type approach, or training for a marathon or an Ironman, an iPad nano is by far the best thing you can invest in.
I run with a visor. I run with one of those baseball caps without the actual headpiece, the visor thing that goes around. I literally just have a pair of headphones that go over my ears with the really short cord, and attach my nano to the back of my visor. So it’s not on my body anywhere.
It just sits and attaches to the actual back elastic piece of my visor, and I don’t even know it’s there. It’s so out of the way and so comfortable, which is really, really important for me when I’m running. I don’t want weight and cables all annoying me. But what that means is I can devour podcasts and audiobooks while I’m out running, which is really, really cool.
Dom: That’s a good tip, because it’s like a specific device for that job. They’re really not expensive. They are, as you see, very discreet, very easy to just leave attached to your gear if you use that technique that you’ve got there with that visor. You just load it up with whatever it is that you’re listening to.
Because one of the things I find is that I have a separate iPod, because I didn’t have an iPhone for the longest time—I have a very old iPod Touch. Well, one of things I found was that I would be listening to, say, an audiobook while I’m out walking, and then at some other juncture I put some music on and the whole thing just gets a bit mixed up.
I can’t remember where I was, what I was listening to, what I was doing. So if what you do when you’re exercising is listen to audiobooks and podcasts and things, if you just load it up, then away you go. That’s the device for the job—it sounds a little bit elitist.
Pete: This is a really cool thing, too, and this has nothing to do with the nano directly. This is just a small little hack that I think has worked exceptionally well for me—not that I necessarily needed the motivation, for other people, I know this works really, really well—and think about this. If you have a good book that you’re really getting into, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction it’s hard to put down.
You want to get back to it. I know a lot of the ladies at the moment couldn’t put Fifty Shades of Grey down. They’d read a couple of chapters and then every spare moment, they want to read the next bit—and that’s great. But think about that, if you apply that as a positive constraint to getting fit. You go out for a walk and listen to the first three chapters of a book, hypothetically.
If you force yourself with a positive constraint to only go back out and listen to that next part of the book while you’re walking, it’s going to force you to get, again, off the couch and exercising. I think it’s a really cool little positive constraint you can use to entice you to get out there and get fit.
Dom: Cool, I like that. We have talked about this before we talked about making sure there’s less friction. Whatever it is that you want to achieve, remove the friction. So coupling those two things together, putting something that you’re interested in on your little iPod nano, and having it easy and accessible and ready to go I think is a great little hack.
Pete: So that’s my little slight hack for today.
Dom: Oh, look at you.
Pete: What about you, mate? What’s next on your wish list from Santa Claus?
Dom: Well, it’s something that I know a lot of people have got. I’ve danced around this for both business and home reasons. But I think this year is the year I get an Apple TV.
Dom: Well, twofold. One of them is we live out in the sticks, so I’m a bit behind the times with modern television and modern shows and things like that. So being able to access those online resources for TV and films is becoming a bit of an issue for us. The Apple TV is a great platform for that.
But the other thing, from a business point of view, I was really interested in the opportunity that’s there now with the newer platforms, the newer iPods and iPhones and iPads, this idea of air-sharing. And the idea that basically, you’ve got a box that will plug into any television.
And once it’s plugged in, it will receive a signal from your phone or your iPad or whatever, and it’ll display your iPad screen on the television. Now, from a demonstration point of view, for any business, really, that’s fantastic. At the most basic level, the iPad has a version of Keynote (which is like PowerPoint) on it so you can create entire presentations and give them on your iPad.
But you’ve also got video, you’ve also got photos. Imagine if you were a photographer and in your photography studio, if you wanted, you had people n the room and you were flicking through the shots of your shoot on your iPad and somebody said, “Oh, I like that one.”
Imagine if you could just press a button and it popped up on a huge flat screen TV. A flat-screen TV, and an Apple TV connected to it is not a big investment of money for a business to have that impact.
Pete: Very true.
Dom: So I’m really interested in that, the extended opportunities. But just from a central media hub in the house point of view, I think it’s way past time. You talk about going back in time with your iPod nano, but Apple TV’s been around a really long time. I think it’s way past time that I got one.
Pete: Yeah, I found my first generation one while we were moving recently. But as a quick, another little hack for the Australian listeners, Hulu and Netflix aren’t easily accessible for Australian residents and people with an Australian IP address. But if you get a service called Unblock Us (I think it’s just Unblock-Us.com, Google ‘unblock US’ and it’ll come up), they have ways and services and solutions to allow people of various countries to access US-based content.
You can subscribe to Hulu for $8 a month and you can subscribe to Netflix for $8 a month, and get all the American TV shows and movies and services like that coming straight to your Apple TV. It’s a very, very easy way to get amazing value content coming in.
That’s a little bit of a secret for anyone, I know definitely Australians. I’m not quite sure what it’s like in the UK or Spain accessing US-based content, but it is definitely a really cool little hack.
Dom: That might be something that I may need to look at, actually. Thank you for that.
Pete: No sweat.
Dom: You are a mine of useful information, sir.
Pete: I do have my moments, I do have my moments. My other thing I just want to touch on which is something that is on my wish list. You’ve just spoken about the Apple TV being on your wish list, and hopefully I’ve been a good little boy this year. I’m keen to check out the Fitbits. These are the new fitness tracking devices.
There are a lot out there these days. Nike have theirs and Jawbone have theirs, and there’s been a few other ones released in recent time. This is like the wristband-type approaches to fitness, and it intrigues me. Because the whole idea is you wear this little wristband thing and it tells you when you’re sleeping and how much exercise you’re doing.
The whole science behind it is intriguing me more so than anything else, because I can’t quite understand how something on my wrist will tell me when I’m asleep and when I’m awake, and when I’m running and when I’m walking, and how much calories I’m burning and all that stuff. So that’s going to be a really cool thing that I want to check out in 2013.
Dom: Yeah, admit it, admit it. It’s the competition side as well. Because with the Fitbits and things like that, you can go online and go, “Look at my score, look what I’ve done.”
Pete: You can, you can. There is an ego part to it as well, because you can social-network it out, have little contests with your friends of who’s doing the most calories and who’s doing the most exercise. But half the problem with that is half my friends are in that Ironman triathlon space and a little bit more obsessed than I have.
So in that scenario, I’ll be down at the bottom. But at least with my nerdy business friends, I’ll hopefully be at the top of that list.
Dom: Yeah, I was going to say, I don’t really need a device to tell me that I sit at a desk too long each day right now. But, I, too, am intrigued by the technology of those things. I think it’s a great idea and I’ll wait until you’ve got one and we’ll work it out with you. Because there’s no point, as I say, no point in attaching it to me. It’ll get very confused.
Pete: So, we’re coming up on time a little bit. Should we just do a bit of a rapid-fire round with really quick reasons why for the remainder of our wish lists?
Dom: Yeah, let’s go ahead.
Pete: I was going to say, given the type of people we are, our wish lists always exceed what is required for time or available. Let’s do a little bit of a rapid-fire thing. So what’s your next one?
Dom: I’m going to cram a couple of things together just to wrap up this hardware and technology section. Because you mentioned on your wish list, and on my wish list, nobody would be surprised to know, is a camera. Panasonic has just released the new [Panasonic] GH3. Now, I bought a GH2 earlier in the year. It looks like a regular camera, but it in fact shoots high-definition video.
The GH3 is a phenomenal upgrade. Anybody that’s interested in producing high-quality, high-definition video at a very, very reasonable cost should definitely look at the GH3. Speaking of upgrades, the other thing that has just been released—you may remember us talking briefly in the past, and anybody that knows us will know that we love our Livescribe [Smartpens].
It’s a pen that will take a digital copy of your real-world handwriting and also record audio at the same time. They’ve just upgraded that to have a Wi-Fi connection. You no longer need to connect this thing with a cable to your computer to download the recordings, which I think is a great, great improvement.
And the last bit of tech—if you were going to get yourself one thing from a productivity improvement point of view, this year treat yourself (or get your family to get you), it’s a very simple thing. It’s a second monitor for your computer.
Whenever you’re working on a computer, if you work all day on a computer, then you’ll find, however big your screen is, very often, you’ll run out of space, especially if you’re producing any information or working with a lot of websites or web pages or doing research or anything like that.
When I first heard this tip, I didn’t believe it. But trust me, I tried it. I didn’t spend a lot of money on my second screen, and it’s just the same size as my main screen. Just sits to the side, and I can just have double the information available to me at the same time.
Now, I don’t recommend that you use it to stick your Twitter feed on, because that’s just distracting. But it is a great productivity improvement. Once you it, then you won’t go back. That would be my number one thing from a productivity point of view. Pete, have you got anything you want to try to squeeze into the end of the show?
Pete: Yeah, well, there’s probably two services. We touched on one of them before, and that’s Evernote. I now use Evernote on a regular basis between the actual application, but also the Web Clipper. I know we’ve spoken about before, on the note-taking show I think it might’ve been (from memory), which was way back at the start of the series of shows we’ve done.
It’s definitely one of the better ones, so hopefully people will go back and check that one out. We talk about and break down different tools for note-taking and managing your data. Evernote is best looked at when looked at as a filing cabinet. I don’t use it as a note-taker, so to speak, or as any way for planning.
I use it as a virtual filing cabinet, and I just clip and add so much stuff into Evernote because it’s searchable, it’s taggable. An Evernote Pro subscription is a must-have in this day and age. That’s a service that I recommend people check out. And the other one is old faithful Audible. They’re a regular sponsor of the show, and you can get a free trial at AudibleTrial.com/PreneurCast.
If you haven’t tried it out, you can get a free audiobook to try all this stuff out on. But really, I’m getting two to three audiobooks a month from their service. It is fantastic, to go and get information, particularly if you’re commuting or traveling or running or doing exercise, and things like that. I highly, highly recommend Audible as a service.
Dom: And I completely agree with you on both of those. I’m a massive user of Evernote. I don’t think a day has gone by in the last six months that I haven’t used a Web Clipper, just like you. And again, I use it mostly as a filing cabinet, a way of storing things in a central place.
It’s great because I can get at it again on my iPad, my iPhone, on all my desktops. It’s all shared between the two, so awesome. My other piece of software, the thing, again, that is a significant improvement in my world—ScreenFlow, the screen-recording software that both you and I use.
They’ve just upgraded to Version 4. If you are a Mac user (because it’s only Mac software) and you have any need or any idea that you might want to record your screen, ScreenFlow is pretty much the best in class. The Version 4 has just been a phenomenal upgrade, definitely worth looking into.
And my final, final tip, which is a double purpose, holiday season tip for a service is if you use Amazon at all, if you buy anything from Amazon (and well, you can literally buy anything from Amazon), I strongly recommend that you look into investing in an Amazon Prime subscription.
Pete: Now, you have to basically be western, right?
Dom: No, not at all. Amazon Prime is available in all of the major Amazon locations. I have Amazon Prime on my UK account.
Pete: But us Australians? No luck.
Dom: But you haven’t got Amazon, so…
Pete: There are rumors. There have been some pretty strong rumors they’ve been out here, looking at warehouse space, which is very exciting.
Dom: But (and this is a valid tip for you), even though you are in Australia, and it’s for this reason, this is why it’s a holiday season tip. If you have customers or friends and family in another country, it’s well worth getting an Amazon account in that country and getting Amazon Prime.
Because Amazon Prime is at very, very low cost, and it allows you to get free shipping for any number of goods. Whether it’s a single order of a single book, all the way up to a huge order. And if you believe as Pete and I do, in giving back to your client base by sending them little gifts from time to time.
You might send people a recommended book, or you might send it to a colleague, or send it to a business acquaintance, or send it to your clients, or you might just want to send gifts to friends and family overseas. We do, because we’re in Spain, we do all of our Christmas shopping on Amazon.
Pete: Ooh. So they do gift-wrapping?
Dom: They do gift-wrapping.
Pete: Very cool.
Dom: We literally ship all of our Christmas presents and birthday presents to all of our friends and family in the UK via Amazon. And we don’t pay a penny for the shipping. It’s such an efficiency, it’s amazing. As I say, for those of you who have a large customer base or client base in a country like the UK or in the USA, if you want to be shipping things from Amazon, if it’s practical for your business model, then Amazon Prime can save you an absolute fortune.
Pete: I will give you a bit of a caveat on that, though, unfortunately. If you’re going to do some crazy numbers of shipping, like you’re going to ship 300 items in one week to 300 different addresses, they do have a fair-use policy and they will send you an e-mail.
Dom: Okay. I won’t ask how you found that out, but I’ll take your word on that.
Pete: But within reason, you have no issue at all. Just don’t go thinking you can go and send out 1000 gift hampers to your 1000 clients in one week and not get an inquisitive e-mail from the customer service team.
Dom: And on that note… So, folks, that’s our tips for a Holiday Gift Guide. Slightly and technically in business-oriented, but hopefully there’s something in there for everybody, a little bit of everything for all pockets and price ranges, and a mixture of things that we ourselves are using or that we’re looking forward to getting in our holiday gift collection ourselves. Yep, that’s us for this week, folks.
Dom: Back to normal programming next week, but wishing you all a great holiday season. Thanks for listening in. Please keep the comments coming, both on iTunes and PreneurMedia.tv. Obviously, as we said at the beginning, we’ll have a list of all of the things we talked about this week in the show notes on PreneurMedia.tv with links so you can find out more about them. Speak to you all next week.
Pete: See you guys.
iCraze Laptop Stand – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/icraze
MacBook Air – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/macbookair
Doxie Portable Scanner – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/doxy
Elgato Turbo.264 HD Video Encoder – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/turbo264
Bedphones – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/bedphones
Shure Headphones – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/shure215s
iPod Shuffle – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/ipodshuffle
Apple TV – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/appletv
Fitbit Fitness Monitor – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/fitbit
Panasonic GH3 Camera – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/gh3
Livescribe Smartpen with Wi-Fi – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/livescribewifi
Dell 24″ Monitor – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/2ndmonitor
Evernote Premium – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/evernotepremium
ScreenFlow 4 – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/screenflow
Audible Books Free Trial – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/audible
Amazon Prime Subscription – http://www.preneurmedia.tv/amazonprimes
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