This time last year, when I turned 27, I wasn't really sure what was going to happen in the next 365 days until I turned 28. I had left my job as a radio and digital producer and was testing the waters elsewhere. And I had been wading in the water for almost seven months at that point in time. Since then, I've gone through multiple jobs, and ended up where everything started about seven years ago. I haven't really kept to my pledge to put up a new post every day since it's been two weeks since I did anything, but I've been making content elsewhere, whether it has my name on it or not. I've started producing a series of videos that you may have seen from the shows on Jox, or a number of other stations. For example - the Roundtable Unfiltered. So I'll pretend that counts. I don't really have time to do much else. Hopefully I can make time once I get more used to my new, hectic schedule at work. I still have some ideas, but we'll see if I can put them into action. Doing so much video editing on all the videos for our radio stations makes me partly sick of video editing, and part wanting to do more of it, but of my own videos. ----- When I turned 25, I put up a blog post about things I wanted to accomplish in the next 25 years into my life. Let's see how I'm doing so far: 1. I'd like to see Alabama win 3 more football national championships (the amount they've won in my first 25 years of existence - 1992, 2009, 2011) They've won one in 2012. Two more to go. I have faith this one will be accomplished. 2. I'd like to start a successful media company. I'm still working on this one. The ideas are there. Maybe not exactly how I imagined things three years ago, but at least something that is fun and creative, and that I can be more a part of when it comes to the creative process. It doesn't even have to be traditionally focused. When I look at the skills and talents of people in my life who have many of the same ideas I do, it makes me really want to get all those people and talents together and do something great with them. It's not that I want to do something independent of traditional media companies that exist now to be better than them, it's just that I think I have a different take on things and as things are - those ideas will never flourish how I want them to. 3. I want to write a book. I've written two half-books. One of these days I'll finish them. One is about the "5 Rules of Life" my family has come up with. If you don't know them, ask me or my parents one day. The other is about the tornado in Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011. For those that don't know, I was in school at Alabama at the time and lived in an apartment just off 15th street that narrowly missed being demolished. It's a half fiction/half non-fiction book based around the events day. 4. I want to visit every NFL stadium. I'm still working on that one. 30 to go... 5. I want to go to one of these: Daytona 500, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Super Bowl, and The Masters. Yeah, still working on this one too... 6. I want to go to Japan. I keep telling my parents that one day I'm going to go on a sabbatical to Japan. For two weeks, I want to go to Japan by myself. No plans, no agenda. Just get a plane ticket and a hotel room and see what happens. Now I just need a job that allows me to do that. About that media empire... 7. Visit every continent (already been to China, so Japan doesn't count toward this). Still need Africa, South America, Australia. 8. See an opera at the Sydney Opera House. This will 100% be accomplished if I ever go to Australia, and I can kill two birds with one stone. 9. Visit the Hotel Danieli in Venice. I was actually set to go to Italy this summer, but that ended up being cancelled. So instead, I'm going to Vegas. Not a terrible trade-off, but it doesn't get me any closer to this one. 10. Attend a heavyweight title boxing match in Las Vegas. (and wear a big fancy coat with a top hat) I missed my chance with Deontay Wilder. Maybe he will be king for a while and I can have another opportunity. I would even trade this out for any title match in either boxing or UFC. That's kind of cheating, but any of them would be cool. Maybe there will be a fight when I'm in Vegas this summer. ----- If you've read this far, then I'm proud of you. Here are some fun events from my birthday: 1785 – The University of Georgia is founded, the first public university in the United States. 1888 – The National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C. 1993 – American-born sumo wrestler Akebono Tarō becomes the first foreigner to be promoted to the sport's highest rank of yokozuna. Also, I share this birthday with Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which is probably why I'm so masterful on the piano. Also born on this day is Art Rooney, who founded the Pittsburgh Steelers, the most successful franchise ever. That explains why I'm so amazing at football. Also, William Randolph Hearst, which is why I'm such a great writer. Also, Rebeka Kim from South Korea which explains why I'm such a great ice dancer......wait... ----- All in all, today was just like any other day. I think your birthday should be a holiday from work no matter what. I'm not one for big celebrations and hoopla for any reason, so I didn't even tell anyone it was my birthday today, yet somehow everyone found out. I blame Facebook. But my Facebook page sees more action today that it will see all year. I'm too busy posting on other Facebook pages - be it 97.3 The Zone, AL.com, or WJOX 94.5's page - to post anything on my own. So I'm one year closer. Closer to what, I don't know. But maybe I'll figure it out one day. For now, it's back to video editing.
While we are in the midst of the college and NFL playoffs, there is a major event that just ended in Las Vegas. One of the biggest conventions in the world takes place at the beginning of the January each year. The Consumer Electronics Show has literally anything you could expect to see in the world of technology. I had the pleasure of attending and working at the 2011 CES event, and it was one of the most fun weeks I have ever had (even if my feet were killing me at the end of the week). CES is almost like going to a different world. Las Vegas itself is a strange place to go and is like nothing else in the country, but add CES on top of it, and it's a great mix of technology, gambling, nerds, and a fun time. When I was at CES (working for Samsung), the big thing was 3D TV's. That fad seems to have passed and moved on to 3D printers instead. Taking cool technology on a screen and putting it into real life is what it's all about between 3D printing and wearable technology. As usual, this year had the coolest gadgets and gizmos on display, most of which we won't see in a store or available for purchase for a while. Here are some of the items that stood out to me:
Best Tech TermOne of the big things this year was the phrase "Internet of Things". As boring and vague as that sounds, the IoT is a phrase that was coined for the communication that your tech has with other tech. It's the ideal that major companies such as Samsung, Intel, and more are using as they all try to grab a piece of the pie in creating the network that your whole life communicates with. Basically, it's almost a form of artificial intelligence that you as a user control, but that helps ease your life. Some things already exist, such as being able to change the thermostat or lock your door with your phone. However, those are all controlled by us. The IoT will be the platform that all of those devices use to communicate with each other, and the next big step is to make it where your devices use the IoT to communicate with each other...on their own. You don't have to unlock the door, then come in and turn the lights on, change the thermostat, turn the TV on, and start pre-heating the oven. When you pull up to your house, it will know, and "something" will do all of that for you. Creepy, right? More like inevitable, so get used to it. Another area where this is taking place is in your cars. We've already seen the creation of cars that drive themselves from the likes of Google, but now that technology is looking to grow even more, by communicating with your other devices and help "ease" your way of life. As long as the IoT doesn't become self-aware, then it's all cool.
Best Wearable TechWhen you think of the phrase "wearable tech," you typically think about the new futuristic watches, or t-shirts with heart rate monitors, or something like that. But I have to give it to a pair of ear buds that have changed what ear buds or headphones have ever been meant to do. Usually, we rely on our phones to help us keep up with our music, and maybe be a GPS while out running, or have a pedometer on it. Now, a company called Bragi has created ear buds that can do all sorts of things, wirelessly. "The Dash" are not only wireless headphones, but they also are a heart rate monitor, a hands-free device, a personal trainer, and have intuitive touch-based controls. This is the next evolution of wearable tech, and it's wearable tech that you actually might want to...wear.
Best Home Entertainment ProductI've written about this already, but Sling TV is the way of the future for TV. Dish is offering a package for $20 a month that gives you TNT, TBS, CNN, Food Network, HGTV, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Disney, ESPN, and ESPN2. No contract, just TV channels for way less than your cable bill. Check out my full write up here.
Best InnovationThis is a piece of technology that can change the way we interact with everything. Energous has created a system called WattUp, which wirelessly charges your devices from up to 15 feet away. Imagine that you had one panel in your room, and it could charge your phone, tablet, camera, computer accessories, game devices, and more all by just having them in the room with you. Wireless charging before has existed, but only if you at least made contact with a device. Energous has created something that sends out a charge to your devices by bouncing it around the room until it finds it. Before you think the charges it's sending out are radioactive and will deform your skull or something, it actually operates on the same waves that wi-fi does, and we've been around it for a while now and haven't died yet. This product isn't out yet, but it's coming and will change everything.
Best Celebrity AppearanceNick Cannon was there, Kanye was there, Snoop Dogg was there, Tony Hawk was there. But I have to give it to will.i.am for actually working on a piece of tech and showing it off. He's not the first celebrity to jump in with a company and help design a product, that happens all the time. But while most people just slap their name on something, or just show up to CES to sing a song or too, will.i.am has created something unique. His smart watch, i.amPULS, is basically a smart watch that doesn't need some other device to run on. It runs on it's own, and plays music, makes calls, reads your heartbeat, and shares all this information socially. He's also working on products that can be added to other pieces of clothing to communicate with the watch, and let the watch be at the center of it all, instead of a phone or computer.
Best Game TechRazer always has great products. I was able to check out some of their cool stuff at CES when I went before, but they always come up with something new to steal the show. Never mind that I'm typing this from a Razer keyboard and mouse. However, the Razer Turret is something to keep an eye on. PC gaming isn't going anywhere, but as the offerings continue to increase, the Razer Turret makes it where you can game from your couch on your PC with ease. It's obviously wireless, but the mouse stays put a little better due to a magnet in it keeping it on the pad. The whole thing is long enough it fits on your lap and with a full keyboard and mouse to control with, it makes gaming a breeze no matter where you are in the room. We'll see how the magnet holds up as it might make control a bit harder, but it's supposed to keep the mouse from flying off the pad when you shift your body. I also have to mention the Steelseries Sentry Eye Tracker. It may not really hold anything special for anyone because no one really cares where on the computer you're looking, but it might help with gamers who need to be focusing on the right things at the right time. If you're raiding in World of Warcraft, you need to make sure to look at certain things at the right time. This can help train you. It might not be a great piece of tech now, but it's possibilities down the line are great.
Weirdest ProductThe weirdest product has to go to Belty, a belt that auto-adjusts when you need it to. Just eaten a big meal? Belty can sense that and it releases a bit when you stand up from eating. It's basically a motorized belt (with a slightly bigger than I want belt buckle that holds the tech) that senses when it needs to change. It also keeps track of your different waist sizes which can be good for losing/gaining weight. The problem is when Belty becomes self-aware and doesn't let go. You're in the mood, but poor old Belty is hanging on for dear life. You see where I'm going.
Dumbest ProductMy nod for dumbest product has to go to Stir. Stir is basically a desk that auto adjusts at certain times so that you change position while working to get a little exercise. That's just what I want, I'm in the middle of working on a big project and 100% focused on my computer, and my desk starts lifting up in the air taking my computer away from me. Then right when I get situated standing up to continue working, it drops to the ground and takes it away from me again. I just want to sit in peace. If it's healthy to get up and walk around every 30 minutes to an hour, then set an alarm or something, don't take my desk away from me. I'm not saying it's not good to move around, I typically get up every hour or so and go do something else, but come on...
Most Unnecessary ProductThe Belfie Stick. Just listen to some of these testimonials on their website: “I got my squat game down on lock shooting belfies every day to check up on my progress!" - Marcos from Miami “I never again have to take pics in the bathroom. I can't tell you how many times Ive dropped my iphone trying to take pics. I love it! Thank God they invented belfiestick!” Lauren from LA “I can't believe they invented this, it's totally insane! Everyone is hurtin holding their phones trying to get the right precise angle. Bend over, snap a pic & done! Belfiestick rulez!!!.” Ellen from Michigan This was actually a product at CES. Thank goodness I know that someone out there has invented a stick that I can attach my phone to so I can take a photo of my ass. Look out world.
While sitting at work today, I was listening to the Roundtable, which I often do since it's the best show in all of radio and I now work for the company that it's under. They were talking about paying someone $25,000 to stand in the cold somewhere like Lambeau Field in Green Bay, shirtless with "I love Brett Favre" on their chest. It made me think back to February 4, 2001 when the Memphis Maniax came to town to take on the Birmingham Thunderbolts in the first ever XFL game. It was the weekend after my birthday, and my parents had gotten me and all of my friends tickets to the game as a present. We all thought the XFL was the coolest thing ever, getting to watch an extreme version of our favorite game, with some of the great names we grew up with, such as Jay Barker, Curtis Alexander, James Bostic, Quincy Jackson and more. I had four friends coming to the game, so we decided to paint our chests to say "BOLTS". We gathered at my house to paint up and get ready for the game. I decided to paint my own chest, and I was the S at the end of the word. I turned to the mirror to paint my S, and sure enough, that S turned into an awkward looking Z. So there I stood, in the freezing cold in February at Legion Field, watching Birmingham lose to Memphis, with my backward S. Despite all of that, it was still a fun time and despite having gone to over 100 Alabama games (I've counted), and countless NASCAR races and NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL games, that is still one of the most fun times I've had at a sporting event. So would I do it again for $25k? You bet I would. Granted, Lambeau is a hell of a lot colder than Legion Field. Regardless, I'd paint up, and bundle everywhere that wasn't my torso, and cheer with the rest of the cheese heads. What else would I do for $25k or any amount of money? The list is probably pretty long. It's not that I have no shame, it's just that the memories (such as those of the Bolts game) are worth the money and slight bit of humiliation and small timeframe to freeze in. I always said the people who painted their chest at cold games in the fall/winter are stupid, but I'll do stupid things for $25,000. Just ask the Boltz.
As I grew up in Homewood, I loved nothing more than to play sports. When I was a kid, I was always the first signed up for little league baseball, basketball, soccer, and more. I didn't actually start football until 6th grade because Homewood didn't have a youth program until then. I then stuck with football while continuing other sports here and there all the way through college. Despite loving sports, and playing all of them I could, I never once thought that I could make a career out of it. It was a fun activity to do after school, but at the end of the day, I knew I needed to go get a boring degree so I could have a career in an office to make enough money to live my life. In 2008, while majoring in computer science, I drove down to football workouts after class, listening to the end of The Roundtable and beginning of Paul Finebaum on WJOX, as I did each day before I went in to get dressed. I heard the guys from the Roundtable asking for interns for the coming months. I thought it might be a fun opportunity to get my internship hours in, and it could keep me around sports instead of being a boring internship somewhere else. The internship was so fun, I ended up staying for almost a year, when I was supposed to only stay for 3 months for my school credit. I knew after those months that working in sports media was what I wanted to do with my life. I immediately turned to major figures in sports media to study them and see what I could learn from them. One of the first people I really studied was Stuart Scott. While in college, I was a regular viewer of the late night Sportscenter's, often anchored by Stuart. I watched him as he did Monday Night Countdown, the NBA on ESPN, and more. He was everywhere on the network, and everywhere I wanted to be, doing everything I wanted to do. Stuart Scott got his start in radio as well, at WXYC in North Carolina. He then rose to work at different TV stations until he got his shot at ESPN with the launch of ESPN 2. ESPN 2 wanted to appeal to younger viewers, and grabbed Scott to help get that demographic. As I worked on the Midnight Meltdown in the past, I looked to people like Stuart Scott and what he did in his early years at ESPN. The successes he had individually, although the station ended up moving away from it's initial goal, motivated me to continue with the work I was doing because I knew it would appeal to people. Sure enough, Stuart moved on to be one of the most beloved people on the largest sports network. If I could ever accomplish 1/4 of what he accomplished, I would consider my life a success. Despite all the sports figures I've met and interacted with over the years, I never had the chance to meet Stuart Scott. However, it's rare that you could feel like you know someone just from watching them on TV. Stuart wasn't one of those that felt he was above everyone else. You felt like Stuart was on the couch beside you, not on the TV in a studio in Bristol. He was just one of the guys, and talked like one of the guys. His signature phrases have been repeated over and over today, and they were all a small part of what made Stuart Scott so great. It won't be the same on ESPN without him. He was one of the good ones. In a day in which there are so many polarizing figures in the media, Stuart Scott was loved by everyone. Tonight when I go to bed, I'll flip my pillow over to the cool side, and remember a great sportscaster, a great father, and a great man - a man whose footsteps I hope I can follow.