20 Years on Young Life staff. A few observations on how things have changed.

20 Years on Young Life staff. A few observations on how things have changed.

The world has changed quite a bit since 1994 and how I do my job has changed drastically. Technology has been a huge part of this change. In fact, things have changed so much that I often sit back and think "What did I do all day before the internet was really a thing? How did I do my job?"

Read More

How I got early upgrades for the iPhone

Ok, so since yesterday, a bunch of people have been asking me how I managed to upgrade my phone early. It goes back several years.

We have 2 phones on our account, and they don't come up for renewal at the same time. One was always ahead of the other one.  So 2 years ago when the iPhone 4 came out I looked at our plan and low and behold Jessica's phone was eligilbe for the upgrade discount. So I went out and bought her the iPhone 4.  I had the 3GS at the time. A few months went by and I was insanely jealous of how amazing the iPhone 4 retina screen looked, so I went to our local AT&T store and asked about upgrading my phone. I wasn't eligible for the discount, and I didn't want to spend an extra $250 to upgrade without the discount.  Now, at the same time I was seriously interested in switching our home internet/cable provider from Comcast to AT&T Uverse. Mostly because I just really liked the features and interface that Uverse offered. So I said to the guy at the AT&T store, "What if I decide to switch to Uverse?"  At this point he went and got another guy, who clearly had the authority to swing deals, and we were talking!  After a few minutes of negotiating, I switched our home internet/cable provider to Uverse (which I wanted to do anyway), and I got a 32gb iPhone 4 for the fully discounted price.

So that's how I got the iPhone 4.  Then the iPhone 4s came out 10 months later.  So I checked our upgrade availalbility online again. By now, Jessica was eligible for the upgrade, again, but I wasn't. So I bought a 4S for Jessica and then had AT&T switch out the SIM cards so that I got the 4S and Jessica still had the iPhone 4.  She isn't as tech obsessed as I am (understatement).

A year after that (last week), the iPhone 5 comes out, and now my line is eligible for the discounted upgrade, so bam I get myself a iPhone 5.

All the while, I'm selling the old iPhones to friends or on ebay, and basically making back most of the cost of dicounted iPhones.

So, a year from now, Jessica's line will be eligible, and we can do it all again.

iPhone 5 -- Should you buy it? My review.

Every time a new iPhone is released I get quite a few people asking me if I'm going to buy it and if they should buy it or not.

I don't usually get one on the first day, but rather I wait a few weeks. However, this time I did hop in a line near my house and I bought it. In fact, I was the first person I knew to have one.

This time someone asked me to write a review, so I'm going to write my first ever iPhone review.  Remember, I'm not a tech blogger, which is good, because most of the people who read this won't be interested in hearing about the RAM and the processor speed anyway.


Read More

When will the new iPhone come out?

Tons of people ask me this question each week.  So here you go, below are links to websites and specific stories that I read to be in the know.  You too can be an internet geek by reading these sites daily. Or you can actually do productive things with your life and talk to real people.

This is when one group thinks it will happen. Link.

When AT&T tells employees they can't go on vacation, that's a good bet as to when the new iPhone will come out. Link.

The People who build iPhone's are reporting a big jump in business, that's always a good sign too. Link 


How to communicate in the modern world

Communication in the year 2012

There are so many ways to communicate now it’s hard to know which communication form to choose. You’ve got Facebook, Twitter, email, Instagram, text messages, phone calls, instant messaging, and many smaller avenues of communication.  So I’ve put together this handy guide to help you and everyone you know communicate better, save time, and reduce irritation. Please pass this on to everyone you know, so we will all be on the same page.

How you communicate should first be determined by the gravity of what you are communicating. If it’s serious, then use a serious form of communication. Don’t communicate to your mom that a family member has died via Facebook wall post.

How you communicate should also be determined by how quickly you want a response. If you need a response right away, then don’t send a letter.

Here is my handy list you can print and keep near you at all times to make sure you’re using the correct form of communication.  T

Read More

How to always have the newest iPhone

I love finding deals, and sharing them with others.

Here is a gift for you iPhone junkies.  This is how to always have the newest, freshest iPhone availalbe, without wasting a bunch of money. In fact, it will barely cost you any extra money at all. Of course, just by owning an iPhone you are paying a wireless company a ridiculous amount of money.

1. Check your availability for upgrade.  Check it often.  Get all OCD about it.  Here's why: you will be eligible for a phone upgrade well before your 2 year contract is over.  The cell phone compaines (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint) want you to remain a perpetual customer, so they will offer you an upgrade before your contract is up. When you excercise the option to upgrade your phone, it extends your contract for another 2 years.

2. Buy the new iPhone as soon as it comes out.  Be an early adopter. I know you don't need the newest iPhone, but buying it immediately will payoff for you in just a few days. Here is how. This of course assumes you are getting it at the discounted price, because you were eligible for an early upgrade. If you aren't eligible, keep checking, because they don't tell you you're eligible right away. Let's say you go top of the line, and get the biggest and best iPhone, with the subsidized price, you'll spend $300.

3. Once you get the new iPhone and activate it, your old iPhone is now contract free! This means you can sell it to someone as an "unlockable" iPhone.  This is a big deal. A new, non contract iPhone costs about what it costs to actually make an iPhone. A lot.  $600+, depending on which country you live in.  So if you have a relatively new (less than 2 years old) iPhone in good shape for sale, you can get $300-$400 for it.  That's roughly the same amount you spent in step 2 to get a brand new subsidized phone.  BAM! You just upgraded your phone for $100 or less.  

4. If you sell it on ebay or craigslist, be careful and make sure you know what you're doing so you don't get screwed over. 

I've done this numerous times, and have several friends who have as well. That's how you keep with the latest and greatest without spending irresponibly.



Apple, TV, Cable and the future

The one major mainstream technical industry that Apple hasn’t turned on its head yet is television.  Before his death Steve Jobs was expressed his frustration with the gatekeepers of the television networks (aka, the content providers). These guys, the networks and the cable companies, have had a stranglehold on the industry and don’t want to see Apple steal their business like Apple did with the record labels. Therefore they’ve been loathe to deal with Apple. The second big problem is that these same people, cable companies, control most of the bandwidth for broadband consumer internet services in the U.S..  So if anyone starts to threaten their stranglehold on programming (Netflix) then they can throttle the internet traffic to that specific service. Just ask Netflix how this is going for them.

Before he passed away Steve Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, that he had finally cracked the TV issue. So now, the predictions of a true Apple TV are coming fast and furious. What most people think is that Apple has come up with a new simple way to make a TV work. Something like Siri for your TV. I’m sure this is true to some degree, but really, how complicated is a TV.  You point and click a remote, most people are already pretty good at this.  Will Apple improve on it, of course, that’s what they do.

The real problem with TV is this….cable. Or satellite, depending on who you are.  Anyone who has some sort of pay TV service is paying for a couple of hundred channels that they don’t want.  The thing about TV that needs to change is the system of delivery.  The whole idea of a television channel is antiquated and unnecessary. No one cares (except TV execs) what channel a show appears on. Consumers are only interested in the actual program, movie, game show, whatever, not the people who broadcast it. Do you really care who publishes the books you enjoy? No, you just buy the book. You probably don’t even know who published your favorite book, you’re just glad they did. I know this is true for me.

So what will Apple do?  I have no idea, but here is my prediction, which may be WAY OFF, but it’s fun to speculate.

Apple will cut a deal with a major Cable subscription service (Comcast, ATT Uverse, Time Warner). Apple will pay this cable company some ridiculous sum per user to get all the bandwidth they want.  Then Apple will charge the consumer slightly more than that rate to pick and choose what shows they want to watch. As much of it as they want. When and where they want to watch it, all seamlessly organized and presented through Apple products.  

The chosen cable company will continue to pay the content producers (TV networks) the same amount they pay them now, so they remain happy. Now users don’t have to browse through 600 channels, memorize what network the tv shows they like come on, or pay for crap they don’t want (Home Shopping Network).  They can watch the shows they want to and everybody still gets paid.

I’m sure there are massive flaws in this plan. I’m not an expert when it comes to these industries, but I think this is in the same ballpark as what may happen in the future, because no one in the TV game right now is going to let Apple take over their industry, and this method will allow all the current players to make money.  Apple doesn’t need to make money on the service, because they make money selling you the hardware you use to consume all the content.  The iTunes store didn’t make much money in the beginning either, but Apple sold a few hundred million iPods and became the most valuable company on earth



Steve Jobs, some thoughts

With the passing of Steve Jobs yesterday, he is going to be in the news quite a bit over the next week. A lot of people who don’t know that much about Mr. Jobs are going to be inundated with new information. I’m not one of those people, because I’m an Apple nerd and I devoured all the books, videos, and articles about Steve Jobs a long time ago. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I’m such an avid fan of Apple.  What follows are some random thoughts, quotes, links I wanted to get down while this is fresh. It's not terribly cohesive, and there may be some grammatical errors, get over it.

 Apple's Resurgence

In the year 2000 my father in law was a big PC user. He is a very successful businessman, and certainly no dummy. However, he bet me that Apple would be out of business by 2010. I laughed at him, and with as much confidence as I have ever had about anything I bet him a steak dinner that he would be wrong.  At that time, Apple wasn’t anything like the juggernaut that it is no. In fact, there were monthly articles on the web and in tech magazines about how Apple was on the verge of dying.  So how could I be so confident?  Is it because I am a gifted business analyst? No way. Did I have insider information? Nope.  It’s because I had been following Apple pretty closely since the “internet” became mainstream at the end of the 90’s. In following Apple I had listened to Steve Jobs vision and his philosophy about business, design, and life in general, and I knew that everything he believed was true and would ultimately win out. 

If you want to delve into the culture of Apple and how the company came back from the dead and created the most innovative, fun, world changing stuff, then I’d recommend watching the old documentary Triumph of the Nerds on youtube.  Link here.  I’d also recommend the book, The Second Coming of Steve Jobs.


I would read these before the authorized biography of Jobs is released on Oct. 24.


 Jobs forced Apple to do things differently, and to live by the principle that Apple didn’t have to be like every other tech company. This was summed up best by the first ad they ran when he returned to Apple in 1997, after having been ousted from the company ten years before.



If you want to be truly great you have to be willing to stand out, to think differently than everyone else.  To say no to some things, even though they may be really good ideas. Jobs said it like this….

 “The system is that there is no system. That doesn’t mean we don’t have process. Apple is a very disciplined company, and we have great processes. But that’s not what it’s about. Process makes you more efficient.

 “But innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem. It’s ad hoc meetings of six people called by someone who thinks he has figured out the coolest new thing ever and who wants to know what other people think of his idea.

“And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.     BusinessWeek, Oct. 12, 2004

More than Money 

If you think that this is just about business and money  you’d be wrong. There is more to Apple than just a great business that makes money. In fact, it could be argued that that was merely a side product of the real goal, to change the world and do something with your life that matters. Steve said it like this… “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me ... Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful... that’s what matters to me.” The Wall Street Journal, May 25, 1993

Long before the iPad, iPhone, and iPod was the Macintosh computer.  The Mac changed everything. People who are not super nerdy, or who are younger than 35 years old don’t remember what computing was like before the Mac.  Before the Mac monitors were black screens with green or slightly orange text on them, and you had to know a computer language to get virtually anything done on a computer.  The Mac introduced the idea of a “virtual desktop” with folders and files to the world.  The whole idea of how you use a computer is directly traceable to the guys at Apple (lead by Steve Jobs) recognizing that this is what computers needed to become mainstream. Windows is just a cheap, poorly done knockoff of the Macintosh, circa 1984.

When I came on Young Life staff in 1994 we had a computer in our office that 3 of us shared.  It was a Compaq Presario and it ran Windows 3.1.  I had never owned a computer personally. However I had used my friends Mac in college to write some papers.  After using the Windows machine for a few months it was time for me to buy a computer.  I bought a Mac, and began to use it at home.  After about a week of using both machines I was an Apple snob. My snobbery was not based in a higher view of myself, but it was the supreme confidence that what I had at home (a Mac) was so much better and well thought out than the Windows machine.  I was willing to bet the farm on it’s ultimate victory in the computing world.  FYI, Apple is by far the most valuable technology company in the world, and depending on the day, they are the most valuable company in the world. They undulate back and forth between number one and two with ExxonMobil.

The reason is because Apple computers just work, you don’t have to be a tech geek to use an Apple, or to keep your Mac running.  People often think I’m a technical person because I talk about computers so much. I’m not, I’m an Apple user. The reason I use a Mac is so I don’t have to be a tech geek to keep my computer working. I can focus on what I actually want my life to be about. Two of their past slogans “It just works” and “The computer for the rest of us” illustrate the vision that Jobs and Co. had regarding the future of technology. They wanted to create beautiful, elegant, tools that were a joy to use, so that you could do whatever it is you do faster, easier, and you would enjoy doing it.

What Really Matters

Steve Jobs came to realize that while the things that he and his coworkers accomplished at Apple were amazing, and helped people in their everyday lives, they were ultimately not as important as he might once have thought.  He put it this way….

“The problem is I’m older now, I’m 40 years old, and this stuff doesn’t change the world. It really doesn’t.

“I’m sorry, it’s true. Having children really changes your view on these things. We’re born, we live for a brief instant, and we die. It’s been happening for a long time. Tech- nology is not changing it much — if at all.

“These technologies can make life easier, can let us touch people we might not otherwise. You may have a child with a birth defect and be able to get in touch with oth- er parents and support groups, get medical information, the latest experimental drugs. These things can profoundly influence life. I’m not downplaying that.

“But it’s a disservice to constantly put things in this radical new light — that it’s going to change everything. Things don’t have to change the world to be important.” Wired, February 1996

From My Perspective 

I'll end with this.  Serving Jesus is the ultimate experession of many of the things that Steve Jobs believed. Doing things that outlast you, that last forever, is ultimately the most important thing in life. Doing things with excellence and beauty are important. It isn't enough to make a product. It isn't enough to just do a job. It needs to be done with care, with passion, and with much thought.  The reason we have different fonts on our computers is because Steve Jobs took a class about caligraphy while he was in school at Reed College (by the way, he never graduated). He thought it was important that the computer have some artistic elegance. He thought it would make a difference. He thought it was important.

The scriptures say it like this....

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters..." Colossians 3:23.

Jesus said it like this....

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  Matthew 6:19-20

I don't think Jobs was a follower of Jesus, but he certainly stumbled upon many ideas that matched up with Jesus very own teachings.


Below is a great article about Jobs, that has a different angle.  It also gives some insight into what the guy was like as a person, not just a corporate leader.