Categories
Blog

Unboxing Xbox Series S & Playing Halo CE

I overpaid on Amazon for what I thought was the Xbox One S that I then cancelled and ordered from Microsoft; I learned that this was the new Xbox Series S.

It is a little confusing, but there are a few consoles out there Xbox One S, Xbox One X, Xbox Series S, and Xbox Series X. The Series in the name is the new generation of consoles, but they seem to be very similar to my original Xbox One.

I like that the new console supports 4K resolution and uses an SSD hard drive.

It is not compatible with the Kinect, which I used as my primary microphone. I don’t like wearing a headset. It’s nice when everyone in the room can be heard in the party. Thought it is rare that have others in the room playing.

The new Xbox Series S & X support Xbox One and Xbox 360 games; all except for games that require the Kinect. Since I never bought any Kinect games, I won’t be missing out on anything.

Categories
Blog

Unboxing Vizio V-Serio 50 inch 4K Smart TV from Walmart

Special thanks to my friend Rafael Alvarez for allowing me to unbox his new TV!

We chose the Vizio TV because it was the brightest out of all the other TV models on display. The Phillips model came close, but the deciding factor was the Vizio had Apple Air Play and Rafael had an iPhone so it worked out perfectly.

This TV has great reviews both online and offline. I have several friends that only buy Vizio and absolutely love their TVs. While I personally have a TCL and a Sony, I was impressed by how bright the Vizio was compared to the TCL that was on display.

Brightness can be a determining factor when you have sunlight washing out your screen. At night it’s less of a factor. Come to think of it when I’m playing video games during the day I do get window glare on my TCL which will likely not be a problem with this Vizio.

The TV is $298 so it’s an amazing price for a 4K TV just a few years ago when this technology was new a 4K TV was $25,000! The prices have rapidly dropped to very reasonable rates.

For the time I spent with the TV I highly recommend it. But if you’re in doubt, like I have said in the video the TV you should get is the TV you like. It’s an old school method, but it still works today — look at all the TVs and pick the one that looks good to you. Some folks don’t like bright screens, I do like them.

Categories
Blog Videos

Thank You, T-Mobile! Unboxing Apple iPhone 12 & Apple Watch SE from VP Jon Freier Twitter Prize

Thank you T-Mobile and Jon Freier for select Kara and Aaron to win 2 iPhone 12 (red and blue) phones and 2 Apple Watch SE (black and rose gold) smartwatches. T-Mobile has amazing customer service and we are honored to be selected as winners this past Valentine’s Day 2021 the same day Kara and Aaron were married! Our camera’s started losing battery and so we will unbox the Apple Watches in an upcoming video!

Thank you, T-Mobile and Jon Freier, for select Kara and me to win 2 iPhone 12′ and 2 Apple Watch SE’. Jon was giving out this prize to 4 couples for Valentine’s Day, and we won!

Kara and I had just gotten married a few hours before the announcement on Jon’s Twitter account. A wonderful wedding gift for a rough wedding week, Texas experienced an unusual snowstorm that made the whole state lose power and water for days.

The iPhone 12 is a significant upgrade to Kara’s iPhone 7 and my iPhone 8. The removal of the home button takes a little getting used to but is likely for the best as it allows for larger screen size. The facial recognition feature is incredibly accurate though it was released before COVID-19 required facemasks.

With the new iPhone 12, we can experience 5G on T-Mobile’s incredible network. I was amazed by how many 5G towers were already available. T-Mobile moved fast on building out a 5G network in San Antonio, TX, and I’m thankful for it.

Why We Love T-Mobile

Before winning this amazing prize that is sure to make us Team Magenta forever, we switch from AT&T over price, and I was particularly inspired by what former CEO John Legere was about.

John passionately believed in putting Customers and Employees first. He spent many nights listening to customer service calls listening for pain points; he heard and acted and made T-Mobile a great company. He really is an inspiration on how to transform a company about to be sold to AT&T into a company that can buy out Sprint.

I’ve bookmarked my favorite speech about how important it is to take care of customers and employees; simple concept, but hard to execute. It takes commitment and partnership; the companies that successfully do this are different and really stand out.

I had watched John for years, and while I agreed with what he was doing, it took time for it to draw me back. When I gave T-Mobile a chance, I was pleasantly surprised that customer service was truly amazing and modern.

He really began a movement. I see an army of T-Mobile employees Magenta clad on Twitter, all being helpful and active in the online community, and I must say I am impressed.

T-Mobile’s pricing structure is what you see is what you get. I really appreciate that. If two lines on their website are $120, when I get my bill, it will also be $120. Taxes and fees are included in their pricing model, and that is something I believe all companies should strive to do as it helps customers budget.

Categories
Computers

Unboxing New Apple Mac Mini M1 2021 Setup Review

Aaron Garcia unboxes the new Apple Mac Mini M1 with 8 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD from Best Buy. The new computer is incredibly fast using Apple’s own silicon instead of a traditional Intel processor. He chooses a dual monitor setup with two Walmart 22″ Surf Onn monitors, Bose speakers, and a Logitech wireless keyboard and mouse, which were also purchased from Walmart.

The Apple Mac Mini M1 is as blazing fast as they say! After several days of using it, I’m am pleased with my purchase, especially because the price was reasonable and there are no batteries to deplete lifecycles.

The pros of buying this device are the speed, the price, and the likely longevity of using wall power vs. batteries that would have ensured planned obsolescence. The cons are the limited number of ports on the back and the incompatibility of the M1 with some Intel-based apps and accessories.

The Good

There are several videos on YouTube showing users opening every application on the dock all at once, I tried it in my video, and yes, the new Mac Mini M1 is really snappy!

I might appreciate this more since I held on to my 2010 MacBook Pro and 2013 iMac for as long as I did. I believe everyone in the world has struggled at some point with a prolonged computer where just opening up Chrome induces anxiety. Perhaps our computers were always that slow, and the iPhone just made that more obvious? For this reason, I believe that most users will appreciate the speed of this Mac as their top reason to get it.

In addition to a responsive app opening experience, I am now updated to macOS Big Sur, which has several improvements that I’m still exploring. And the newest version of Final Cut Pro X flew through, rendering an hour 4K edit in what seemed to be less than an hour! A 1080p of similar length would have taken my 2013 iMac 7 hours to render. So speed is definitely noticed and appreciated!

One of the other reasons I hadn’t upgraded my Mac in so long is the price, and the Mac Mini M1 is set at a great price of $699 to start, though I opted for the $899 model. With as long as I plan to use this computer, that price isn’t intolerable.

And the final thing I like about the Mac Mini, in general, is that it is a desktop that does not have a battery soldered in. Batteries have a short lifespan with me. I use my computer a lot, and I would like to easily replace them without spending a fortune or tossing the whole computer away. With the Mac Mini, I do not need to worry about battery lifecycles because there are none. That gives me peace of mind.

The small size of the Mac Mini may encourage many users to treat it as if it were a laptop by stuffing it into their bag and taking it with them. Even at a base model configuration, the new unit’s speed is enough to be content with spending the least amount possible and still feel like a major upgrade was made.

The subject of price brings me to the bad. Before we dive into that, I want to emphasize that while Apple’s pockets get deeper, the average customers do not. Price is important to those who would like to remain out of the red.

The Bad

I have already experienced keyboard issues with several Logitech wireless keyboards. I believe this will get resolved with software updates and, of course, newer keyboards. The limited number of ports makes using the official Apple Keyboard and TrackPad a more practical choice. For that reason, I believe Apple made a mistake by not including them with the Mac Mini.

One of my more recent frustrations with Apple is that they are nickeling and diming their customers for basic functionality; the accessories required to make their devices useable are costly! A keyboard that is not included with the Mac Mini ranges from $89 to $149. A mouse that is sold separately ranges from $79 to $149. And then there is the limited number of ports that prompt users to purchase dongles – the dongle I bought was $109! It’s as if Apple creates expense by removing necessary features.

I still buy from Apple because of their operating system, which they offer for free every year, and is an amazing OS. But, I feel the meme pay more for doing less is becoming increasingly more accurate with every release.

For as much as Apple speaks about core values, I believe they are losing their way again. Products should exceed a customer’s needs, not price-gouge them. I believe this is a principle that Amazon understands, which is why more Echo Dots are in the world than Apple Pods.

Criticism aside, the Mac Mini is fast, which I couldn’t say about my previous computers, and the software is great. I appreciate the more reasonable price with the Mini, but I do sense a trend with Apple.

Don’t even get me started on the iPhone case ($49.99), wallet ($59.99), charging puck ($39.99), and wall adapter ($19.99). None of those items should costs so much, especially when combined.

Bottom Line

I’m happy with my purchase, as you can see in the video above. I may have some gripes with how Apple has been conducting business lately, but this particular product makes sense to me. It’s affordable and competent.

Categories
Apps Journal Web

San Antonio Social Network

Official Launch Video – Aaron Garcia casually on his sofa inviting San Antonio to join.

I, Aaron Garcia, launched a new social network for San Antonio, called SanAntonio.lol. It’s everything that we love about San Antonio in a social network.

The site feels a lot like Twitter and uses the Mastodon platform; which was first launched in 2016.

I believe that San Antonio should have its own local social network that promotes local community causes, local businesses, and networks local residents.

SanAntonio.lol is a fun place for a fun city. Political rants or explicit content will not be allowed on the site. Instead we will focus on what unites us rather than what divides us. This includes Puffy Tacos, the San Antonio Spurs, Remembering the Alamo, our love of Fiesta, and supporting our local organizations.

To join simply click the button below and sign up. There are several apps available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store; these can be found here.

Categories
Food

Food Delivery Apps and Discount Codes

COVID-19 has suddenly changed our lives, forcing us to stay home and avoid contact with other people. Fortunately, several food apps arrived a few years ago, making at-home food delivery possible.

Below are major Food Delivery Apps and their discount codes.

Caviar

Takeout & delivery from the best local restaurants delivered safely to your door. Now offering pickup & no-contact delivery.

ChowNow

ChowNow is a commission-free online ordering system and food ordering app helping restaurants feed their hungry customers.

DoorDash

DoorDash is a great way to support local restaurants with safe, no-contact delivery. Get $15 OFF ($5 OFF each of your first 3 orders) when you sign up with this link.

Favor

Get anything delivered with Favor! Use my code AAROG5CW95 when you sign up for $5 OFF your first delivery.

Grubhub

Hungry? Try Grubhub! Use my link on your first order and we’ll both get $5 OFF.

Postmates

Want $100 in delivery fee credit? Sign up with code TISG1J or just tap the link below!

Seamless

Hungry? Try Seamless! Use my link on your first order and we’ll both get $5 OFF.

Uber Eats

Hungry? Get $7 OFF your first Uber Eats order. Terms apply. Use my code at checkout: eats-aarong23706ui

Categories
Blog

College Degrees Are Worth It

I graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of the Incarnate Word in the Spring of 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts.

In the months leading up to my graduation, I read many articles claiming that my communication arts degree offered the worst return on investment. I believed this and was very discouraged. And like many college grads, I too let the burden of student loan debt weigh on my mind.

I get it. I have felt it.

Debt is a sore subject with me. I now have an aversion to it. I have become hypercritical of my purchases and scrutinize value to expense to a fault.

It has taken me awhile that realize that value is not numerical. Not everything fits into a spreadsheet. However, I have learned how to crunch numbers better than I ever did before.

Depending on where you are at in life, you’ll defend or decry the value of having a degree. Some dream of having a degree, some declare their value to be useless, and others promote them as the best way forward.

If you work at the university, it is in your best financial interest to defend the value of the degree, no matter what the cost. You may also value degrees because you have invested a lot of time and energy into earning a few of your own. To believe it all in vain would be devastating.

I have been on both sides of the fence regarding my degree’s value. I defend its value because I have one. I rationalize in favor of it because my debt and time would have been in vain, and that would be a shocking reality. But, I also despise the debt that earning said degree put me in.

Since graduating in 2013, I have had time to evaluate my degree’s return on investment, my emotions surrounding its debt burden, and the intangible outcomes that may not have happened without it. I have concluded that this is a multisided proposition.

There are pros and cons. To have and not to have.

I could be without the debt, but I would have missed out on the experience. And when this life is over, my finances will be of little concern. I cannot take my money with me. However, I will be glad that I at least lived, because maybe that was my only opportunity to have experienced what I did.

Assuming I remember or care at all about my youthful experiences. But, I believe I will.

Meeting girls was incredible. I eventually met Kara, my soon to be wife. Without attending UIW, my life might have been entirely different.

And that is not to say that I wouldn’t have met someone anyway, outside of the university, but whichever path you choose is the one for you. As humans, we crave a right and wrong answer. Life is not always so binary.

The more you try to make the right decision, the best decision, the further away you’ll feel from it. Because making the best decision is elusive. It is a rainbow that cannot be reached. Run towards it, drive towards it, fly towards it, you’ll never catch up. Perhaps, making the best decision possible is like catching that rainbow. It is an illusion. The grass is always greener on the other side.

That is not to say there are no objective measures to weigh your decision-making process. There are all kinds of metrics to help you make your decision. But, what I want to caution you of is the fallacy that one metric tells the whole story.

The metrics will eventually contradict each other.

If your degree gains its value by the wealth you obtain or lose with debt, then what would it be worth if it were free? Surely then more education is always welcomed?

And if it is the knowledge that you value, couldn’t you also learn from struggling with real-world problems until stumbling on the solution? Real experiences lead to discoveries that, in turn, inspired your textbook.

Some believe that knowledge is obtained by what is already written and widely accepted. But even textbooks were new at one point.

Education is not a building; education is learning. Learning can happen anywhere and does not necessarily need an admission fee. But some lessons are expensive.

The expense could be material, emotional, or time. Even an opportunity to happen upon a particular discovery could be rare.

That is why knowledge is a treasure. The university gives these unearned treasures like a banquet.

What takes minutes for your professor to explain may have taken the original discoverer their whole life to find. With so many treasures in one place, what a heaven the university must be to all those who were only able to earn a single gem of knowledge.

In a way, the university is a vault filled with incredible knowledge that took years and many lives to obtain. As a student, we are allowed to take from this vault as much as our minds can remember, a truly priceless opportunity.

Now we go out into the world with this knowledge that we possess, and others do not. We paid our dues for this knowledge with our time to learn it and our student loan debt. But even so, it would have been far more costly to obtain just one of the many lessons learned if on our own.

The one who discovers first sacrificed a lot to find it.

The medication that we pull off the shelf was accessible. Just wander into the correct aisle and present it to the cashier. But the group of scientists who originally came up with the drug, that was a journey—a very laborious and costly one.

That is what your degree is; that is your education—an opportunity to glean as much unearned knowledge as possible. Because you could attempt to do it all on the outside, but it would be almost impossible by yourself.

So what about the Internet?

Where do you think those answers originated?

All of us are further ahead because of the unearned knowledge that was shared with us. Even our ability to read and write in a language that we did not invent ourselves furthered us along.

That is what the university is about, furthering us all collectively. Once graduated, the world may not recognize your value at first. And you may not even realize what you have to offer, but the absence of what you provide in the world and the abundance of which you have is your value.

Two salespeople go to the county where the citizens do not wear shoes. One runs back home in a panic wanting to leave in fear that no one is interested in his product. The other salesperson requests all the shoes he can get sent over because he recognizes the opportunity. The need is the opportunity.

Various industries need your field of study.

For me, my field was communication. How many industries struggle with effective communication? It’s an essential need.

You’re needed, and your degree is worth it.

Categories
Blog

Viral Vilification

For several years since the 2008 Presidential Election, I have made strides to distance myself from the political negativity that permeates American social life.

I learned a valuable lesson in the election season of 2008 when I wrote a vile comment in response to what I believed was an offensive political post. I unleashed rage in response to a Facebook post that I had interpreted as more ugly than the poster likely intended.

In short, I lost a friend. Upon reviewing my comments with a more level head, I realized that my response was overboard. So, I deleted the statement but too late.

From then on, I made an effort not to engage in political arguments online or offline. Hard work and years of effort gradually distanced me from the temptation of political rage.

Right now, I am witnessing a majority engaging in it. It is ugly and will lead to division.

Now that we are connected more than ever before, it is easier to divide.

There are many news posts online that I recognize as fake. I am not referring to “fake news” as much as I am referring to blatant misinformation.

I read one post that referenced a real executive order from over 20 years ago, but the Facebook post claimed the order was about something very infuriating. When in fact, one can look up said order as it is a matter of public record and find it was about financials, not the ugly horror the post claimed.

Viral vilification is very easy now. Those behind it should be ashamed of themselves for the damage caused.

Perhaps, this has always been around. Wars begin with misunderstandings, tempers, and poor moral choices. Word of mouth spreads the twisted views of another group like a virus. Now it is easier than ever.

Misunderstandings between people can begin with ineffective communication and flawed reasoning. This divisive toxin can spread through social networks both online and offline.

The more connected we are, and the more instantaneously we communicate, the more vulnerable our society is to an explosive political eruption. It is like dominos set closely together; it is effortless to start a chain reaction.

I believe that technology and mass communication is for the most part, beneficial. But, as with many innovations, it can be used both intentionally and unintentionally with devastating effects.

Let us be mindful of what we spread. Negativity pollution on a large scale can lead to scary consequences. With an incredible reach, we hold a great responsibility to share positive and truthful messages.

Standing up for justice is essential, but do so positively. Spreading anger will only stir up trouble as it will spark a wave of counter anger leading us all into chaos.

Categories
Blog

Too Many Emails

On August 15, 2004, I created my first email account with Yahoo. My first email was a welcome message informing me that I had a whopping 250MBs of email storage.

On October 9, 2013 I retrieved the first email message ever received before it was deleted. I am glad that I was able to preserve this screenshot thanks to a Tweet I posted about it on Twitter.

For many years, I used this account exclusively and gleefully sent and received emails from my middle school classmates. When it came time to search for universities and scholarships, I used this email to request more information.

My college search was the beginning of the end for this email account. I signed up for many scholarship programs, and that’s when the emails started to pour in. My email account began to become unusable. Actual malicious spam began to flood my inbox.

Thousands of emails flowed in, some legitimate, others dangerous, both were too much for me to keep up. So I began blocking as many email addresses as I could.

At the time, Yahoo allowed for a block list of 500 addresses. I used every last one of them and still couldn’t get the spam under control.

Shortly after that, I began experimenting with other email providers. Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, and dot Mac (later known as MobileMe and finally iCloud). I made dozens of email accounts and ultimately gravitated to Gmail and iCloud.

I wanted an iCloud account because I was a big fan of Apple, but once I ran out of storage, I switched over to Gmail. Gmail has been my email provider of choice since, because of the tabs that sort personal messages from promotional ones. Even with these measures, I still manage to get 43,000 emails.

Other inbox and Unroll.me were tools I used to filter out some of the marketing emails. Even with these tools, my Gmail account finally did fill up, and soon, I was off creating more Gmail accounts.

The trouble with email today is that so many businesses find it necessary to spam me into purchasing their product or service. These practices make my inbox practically useless. At some point, I’ll run out of storage, and I either have to spend my money to expand it just to receive more of these unnecessary emails or simply create a new account.

Marketing works when few are using a particular method. But, when everyone does it, we have information pollution. Think of it as an environmental hazard, but for your brain.

With news sites, broadcast television, social media, and political campaigns all trying to get our attention, we have such little awareness that we can give.

Marketers who use emotion, particularly negative emotions, pollute the public’s mental health with negativity. Everyone else shortens our attention spans as we are overwhelmed with too much, mostly useless information.

I recognize that if this were 1999, this blog post would likely reach more than it does today. There are 250 billion websites (not all of them active), more sites than people on the earth.

We can’t all be number one on Google. We can’t all have everyone’s attention all the time. So we should focus on getting the attention of those who actually want what we have to offer. It’s easier that way.

Categories
Blog

How Many Domains Does Aaron Garcia Have?

A quick search in Google suggests a query for how many domains do Google and Amazon have. Not that anyone is searching for how many domains I have, but I’ll tell you anyway.

On March 30, 2008, I bought my first domain paleolithicfilms.com. At the time, I thought it was silly to buy my name. Over 12 years later, I think it is ridiculous that I didn’t buy aarongarcia.com when I likely had the chance.

For a good while, I only owned one domain, paleolithicfilms.com. I used it for everything, from blogging about my life to creating URL shortcuts to my Google Slideshows for class. Eventually, I realized that the name Paleolithic Films is not only hard to spell but also had nothing to do with what I was posting.

So, one day while riding with my parents in the backseat of their car, I got the idea to buy photo4dollar.com. I was starting to think about business and, more specifically, photography. Most photographers charged more than $1, and I thought it would be an excellent way to attract attention online. So I bought the domain.

And I did nothing with it. After holding on to it for a while, I let it expire. Instead, I opted to purchase a new Top-Level Domain (TLD) agarcia.tv.

Again I used agarcia.tv for all sorts of uses that had nothing to do with Online Television. Initially, I had intended to use the domain for online streaming. I attempted that, but eventually, I used it to blog about my political views, post my class essays, and share my professional portfolio.

I liked the domain because it was short and, in my mind, memorable. But just like Paleolithic Films, it was hard to remember for everyone but me.

While attending the University of the Incarnate Word, I got the idea to start a social network. Notably, a social network dedicated to education. A place where students could publish class notes for those who missed class because they were sick or in sports.

The site was uiwstudy.com. I was very excited about it and shared the idea with my classmates and professors. I even got a lawyer interested in it over the legality of posting scans from textbooks. Because most professors like to share scans from other books and distribute has a handout. If you missed class that day, you’d want that handout as it is a class note. Posting it to UIW Study would then attract copyright infringement attention. The lawyer said he’d defend me if I had the cash, but unless I’m as rich as Google, it is advisable not to try it.

After holding on to that domain for a while, I let that one go too.

Then I got the idea to create an app called Shuttle Tracker. And you guessed it, I bought shuttletracker.com and held on to it for a while. The site did what I intended for it to do. It advertised an app that was never fully developed. I received lots of emails about when I’d finish the app from the school newspaper and student council.

Sadly, I let it go after never finding the time to finish what I started. Now it’s for sale for thousands of dollars by a domain squatter. For the record, that was my idea, my domain, so that you know.

Then I met up with a group of guys who wanted to take photos of ghost towns. I suggested that we start a documentary series and launch a website. We called it Deserted Texas, and so naturally, we purchased desertedtexas.com. Since I had the misfortune of buying so many domains and never using them for their intended purpose, I let my friend Johnny buy it this time. And just like me, he too let it go after a while.

To keep the dream alive, I bought desertedtexas.org just before the original domain expired. Redirecting all the traffic to the new domain, I’ve maintained it since and almost let it go last year.

You can imagine how much money ICANN has made off of people like me who buy random domains and then let them go and buy more domains.

And you’d think I’d stop there, but no, I didn’t.

I realized that agarcia.tv wasn’t memorable, so I bought agarciatv.com. And that was short-lived, because I realized that no one is searching in Google for agarciatv. Only me.

Then aarongarcia.net became available. The wise person who bought aarongarcia.com owned aarongarcia.net too. I guess he let one of them go. And I picked up with gleefully. Yes! Finally, a domain with my name in it.

I forgot to mention that somewhere in this long history, I bought aaronjosephgarcia.com, now realizing the error of not owning aarongarcia.com. But that’s a long domain. I almost let that go with desertedtexas.org but renewed at the last minute.

Because I owned so many domains, my friends and family started confusing aarongarcia.net with aarongarcia.tv, so I bought that too. You can see where this is going.

My domains were either too long, not related to the broad range of interests I have, or too expensive! Certain TLDs cost more than others.

While owning so many domains and launching so many websites, eventually family members wanted a website of their own. So I bought three more family-related domains to host genealogical records.

I even bought llamaleads.com and leadsllama.com to start a business around websites and marketing. I couldn’t decide at first, which name sounded better, so I bought them both. Eventually, I let one of the names go.

This story is getting long, so I’ll summarize a few more purchases. I bought newhonda.club to create a work-friendly blog to promote the dealership I work at.

I bought aaron.video for my growing YouTube channel. Then garcia.love for my wedding and digital scrapbook with my future wife.

Because of all the domains, I purchased I have gotten good at transferring them between registrars and updating DNS records. So why not make a resource website aaron.help?

This reminds me I once bought osxtutorial.com for the same reason, but it was geared to Mac users wanting to learn more about the computer. Yeah, I let that go after Apple renamed OS X to macOS.

If you’ve lost count of how many domains I own and have owned, I am right there with you. The good news is that by holding so many, I have learned a lot about web administration.

And don’t get me started on all the domains I manage for other people and businesses.