Review

Amazon Echo Dot 2 + Wemo Mini Review

The Amazon Echo Dot 2 is arriving on December 5th through Amazon.ca along with the Amazon Echo (gen 2) and Echo Plus. 

Here is a quick summary of what the Amazon Echo Dot 2 offers.

  • A self-contained AI unit with a speaker built into it (no bass but can be loud).
  • Bluetooth connectivity or aux cable. 
  • Wifi enabled.
  • Multi-room music playback.
  • Alexa is always learning new skills through the Amazon Alexa App.
  • Can control your home using additional attachments like lights, TV, any electronic with it connected to a hub.
  • Build your own routine to start your day.
  • Listen to Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, Podcasts.
  • Make calls and connect with friends who also have Echos. 

Bottom line: I really love my echo. I use it everyday connected to my speaker via bluetooth, how I get my news, and control my lights. For $50, this is a great start to your smart home.

For more info, click on the video link above!

Purchase it here:

Amazon Echo Dot 2 in Black
http://amzn.to/2yVqVTL

 

Wemo Mini Plug

The Wemo Mini works great with the Echo line. I have no cons for it as it works perfectly the way I need it to. You can schedule a time when it turns on and off, control it anywhere in the world, it's just awesome.


http://amzn.to/2AYRpVT
You can get additional savings through BC hydro for power savings ($5, must submit rebate).

 

 

Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee Mix Review

A lot of people know me for always experimenting and trying out new things. There was the story of my homemade kombucha tea and what happened (remember to ask me the next time you see me). But I'm always on the look out for things that make me more productive. Whether it allows me to be hyperfocus or anything that improves my mental or physical state. 

After listening to Tim Ferriss' podcast, he had an advertisement on Four Sigmatic's Mushroom Coffee Mix that contains Lion's Mane and Chaga mushrooms. The way that he described it was that you get a sense of what Limitless feels like. 

During his podcast, he mentioned that he usually recommends half a packet to try first but like an idiot, I used the entire packet. I actually felt the effects have way through my commute as I was driving across the bridge. It seemed like I was really aware of everything that was going on and became a bit paranoid at certain possibilities. The best way I can describe it was playing future chess in my mind. 

As i'm writing this right now, I'm actually entering into the state previously mentioned in the above paragraph. But throughout the morning, I felt an enhanced level of energy never felt before. It was intense but it was also joyous. This coffee left a smile on my face but perhaps it had something to do with my mood. But I got everything I had to do in the morning, attended meetings, and after 4 hours, the effects started to wear out. 

They advertise that there are no jitters or crashes. They are correct on the jitters but not so much on the crash. The crash felt intense... To the point where I actually started to get a bit sad. But that may depend on your situation and whatever feelings you got going on. But this became a debate in my mind, do the benefits outweigh the negatives of the caffeine crash? 

It's small amount of coffee that one consumes, 200-300ml and it's about $2 a coffee. That's cheaper than Tim's, Starbucks, and McD's, so based on the benefits, I would say it's worth a try. 

Check out the link below to buy your own and let me know what you think of it!

Click here to buy! http://amzn.to/2sEuyy3

MKC Wallet Review for KICKSTARTER

There is something pleasant about this wallet when you flip out your keys to unlock the door. Perhaps it’s the easy of selecting a key and not having to search through your bag and then select the right key from the ring. 

In addition, the soft-touch leather, that ages incredibly well with markings and scars are beautiful to look at but it feels even sexier in the hands. 

In the 7 days that I’ve used this wallet, I’ve had no real complaints in regards to the functionality of the wallet. Card access has been good, although it doesn’t have a quick release or fanning features. Think of it more of a traditional card wallet. 

Here are the negative aspects of this wallet:

1. It’s thicker than most of the other wallets that I’ve tried. BUT, I don’t always keep my wallet in my pocket so it doesn’t really bother me. 
2. No solution for car key fobs yet. Most new cars now are equipped with Key Fobs and this wallet is catered more so to people who don’t have those type of devices. There was mention that they are testing a solution for this issue.
3. Not the sexiest design although as I mentioned earlier, the leather is really nice. 

Besides the negatives, the positives include the following:

1. Easy installation of keys using their Chicago screws. No tools required to install keys or remove keys. 
2. I can fit about 5-6 cards
3. Option to add a USB key or bottle opener
4. Canadian company
5. It’s an all in one solution, well almost 100% executed minus the key fob situation

So who is this wallet for?
It’s best for someone who doesn’t own a car that uses a key fob, a person who perhaps transits instead of drives. A person who doesn’t own that many keys, I only use 3 keys. If you can live with a wallet that only carries about 4-5 cards. 

When I first saw this wallet, I didn’t like the initial look of it. But I have to say, it’s growing on me, especially the key functionality. I may use this for another week to see if the key solution is good enough to make me stay.

SZNS Minimalist Wallet Review

This incredible thin minimalistic wallet contains a self-retracting pull tab, RFID block shield and premium leather materials. 

Let’s start with the self-retracting pull tab. This wallet requires two hands to operate. And as a spoiler alert, that’s the only downside of the SZNS. In all honesty, there’s not a lot of wallets out there that are operated with one hand. 

RFID is a nice touch when most of our cards now are RFID-equipped or at least have the tap function. For example, my transit card, credit card, debit card, and NEXUS card. It’s good to know that my cards are protected from unwanted thieves. 

The one thing I love about this wallet is the attention to detail to the construction. I’ve handled a lot of minimalistic wallets and I’ve seen some really shotty constructed ones. When you take a close look at the stitching of this wallet, you’ll notice how clean and exact they were. One small detail that I absolutely loved is where the leather meet, they managed to melt the leather together to make it seamless. 

The leather that they used on mine is the tanned one and it feels fantastic in my hands. It holds about 2-8 cards and during my test period, I constantly had 8 cards in. It had very little bulk to it and never did any cards fall out during my use. 

Lastly, there are quick access slots in the front and back of this wallet. They are perhaps one of my favourite features because you can tuck in the cash and it’s secure. I’ve used the traditional type of money clip wallets before and I’ve actually lost my cash. But with this quick access slot, I feel confident enough to carry cash again.

SZNS wallets also carry a 2 year warranty and have free shipping within the U.S. 

Many thanks to Amir again for allowing me to review this wallet. Congratulations on an excellent product!

Until next time. Peace!

Popsocket - The real fidget toy that you should buy cause it's useful

Phone manufacturers are making their devices bigger and bigger. They are also becoming more and more fragile as they start to utilize all the real estate for the screen, example, Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+. 

I recently discovered for myself, the Popsocket, the solution to holding your large phones. It's a simple but effective product because it re-trained me to hold my phone. In the past, I'd use my pinky to rest my iPhone and over time, my pinky became sore from the weight of the iPhone 6 plus. 

Installation is super simple, just remove the adhesive tape cover, find the spot you want to hold your phone, stick, press, done. 

When your phone is in your pocket, collapse it and it's barely noticeable. When you need it, just pop it out and hold it between your fingers. It feels so natural in the hands and it's actually a great addition to my runs. It feels way more secure between my fingers that it is in my hands. It can also convert to a stand when you pop the socket out.

Also if you own a slippery phone, then a Popsocket is a must have to reduce the change of any drops. Those dang slippery Samsung phones...

For $10-$15 Canadian, it's not THAT bad considering you will use it every day. Cost per use is ridiculously low if you take my justification. 

Check out my Amazon link below if you want to pick one up yourself. 

http://amzn.to/2qJEtAA

Dafuq is a Fidget Spinner? I'm getting old...

Seriously, do kids have attention issues that badly now that they need to be hypnotized but this fidget spinner?

If people think this is cool, they should see a 3D printed maze I have at my desk.

In any case, I'm not going to write too much about it. You can check out the video in my link below near the end of the video. You can also purchase one for yourself if you really want to. 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2pJx3u4

 

I fully bought into Saje

If there's one thing that I was brainwashed on after Real Talk Summit 2017 is on the health benefits of aromatherapy. I've been considering alternative methods of relieving Bear's (my dog) allergies. He has it so bad that he's constantly licking his paws to the point the hairs are missing. 

After listening to a panel of speakers which included the previous CEO of Saje, Jean-Pierre LeBlanc,  I decided to give it a shot (what's the harm?). First, I did my research on their website and it's a very pleasant website for the eyes. The one thing I'm realizing now is that the website experience is very similar to the store aesthetics as well (impressive). Lots of information, easily found, and the best part of being at Saje, is the customer experience. 

The customer service representatives at Saje are truly different compared to a lot of stores. They're super friendly and take ownership in terms of finding solutions for their customers. I've been to two stores, Coquitlam Centre and Lonsdale Quay, and I'm pleased to say that the experience was identical. In the span of a week, I dropped about $90 on aromatherapy products for my diffuser and also roll on oils.

The ones I purchased:

- Allergy kit - comes with diffuser oil, roll on oil, spray, and a car diffuser (was on special for $25 after spending $25).

- Energy roll on - I'm trying to drink less coffee, it's a nice smell, citrus hints.

- Immune roll on - Helps with fighting colds and germs, nice mint smell.

- Liquid sunshine - I love this, I use it in my car diffuser and it's actually wonderful to open my car door to be awakened by this citrus smell. 

- Kiss mint breathe spray- It's not bad, two sprays and let it linger. Tastes great. 

Results so far, Bear actually has been licking a lot less. I spray his back twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. His hairs on his paws are actually growing back. If Bear was a human then perhaps I can use the placebo effect comment but he can't talk and he's a dog. I'm a firm believer because from the end to end transaction and to the user experience, I can't say enough good things about Saje. 

They're also cruelty free which means the products are not tested on animals.In the end I pay a little more for my day to day products but it's worth it if animals are not tortured for our vanity. Also, the first question I asked a staff member was if the product was safe for animals because of my dogs. 

Thanks to everyone who's helped at Saje and also Jean-Luc for spreading the word on alternative medicines. 

Jukebox Print - My go to place to print business cards

Location: 165 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC

Cost: $55 for 500 Silk Matte quality cards, it's silky smooth!

Website: www.jukeboxprint.com - the site isn't as polished as some of the American companies down south but if you have your graphics then it's pretty simple.

Ease of use: I suggest that you use a site like Canva or have someone professionally design your card so that you make sure you have a polished card. I like mine to be pretty simple so I used Canva to make mine. Jukebox Print goes through a proofing processes and they'll send you an email for you to double check things they noticed such as typos (which I had). Additional proofs may incur extra charges. I also took advantage of the local pick up option to save on charges. They are open on Saturdays as well from 10am but they do go on break so check their website for specific hours. 

Time of completion: Took 12 days total to complete and this accounts for weekends and an additional submission because of my typo. 

 

Hario Cold Brew Pitcher Review

When I first started drinking coffee, it was a typical double double (two cream, two sugars), and the thought of black coffee was pure blasphemy. Since I cut sugar out of my life, I have started to appreciate coffee a lot more in it's purest form. My palette has come accustomed to a preference in how I like my coffee, not too bitter, not too acidic, a general smooth tone. That's probably 90% of people's preference but you would be surprised how bad people can make an Americano.

I recently saw a Kickstarter for a cold brew system that looked like a glass beaker, large enough to fill maybe 2 cups of coffee. I was curious but the price made me look elsewhere. The one I found and purchased was the Hario Cold New Pitcher. 

I knew pretty much nothing about cold brew besides the fact that no hot water is used to make it hence the "cold" brew portion of it. I ordered it on Amazon and it arrived in two days and I immediately prepped my coffee for the next work day.

Word of warning, there is no instructions that are written in English for this system. I used the directions from my Tim Horton's bag of 2 scoops for every 250ml of coffee which means I needed 8 scoops per pitcher which seemed like a lot. In all honesty, I suck at math and in my mind 8 became 5 scoops. There are visual diagrams what you're supposed to do but there are no measurements and the diagram said fill with water to a certain point. Easy enough. 

Once that was done, I stirred it a bit to make sure the water coursed through all of the coffee grind. I placed the lid on and into the fridge for the brewing aspect of it. About 11 hours later, I took it out of the fridge and extracted the filter to dump out the coffee grind. A screw bottom made it easy to clean out the filter, rinse and dry. 

The taste. How would I describe it in words? Smooth, minimal acidity, different flavour profile, cold, and really easy to drink. 

The only thing I don't like about it is how much coffee I need to use to make a pitcher of cold brew. Besides that, this is an easy recommendation for anyone who wants to make cold brew at home. 

Sports Research MCT Oil - Why I add it to my coffee

I've made huge changes in the past two months in regards to my nutrition and have seen massive gains from it. I've lost 15 lbs by eating slow carbs, repeat meals, and fast walks. In order to keep my energy and my mind moving smoothly, I've taken the advice from Tim Ferriss' book Tools of Titans and started mixing my coffee with MCT oil. 

via Amazon.ca

via Amazon.ca

Some people call it the Bulletproof Coffee but it's my spin on it with Coconut milk and MCT oil. There is no taste from it, MCT oil is derived from coconuts and it's the healthy type of fat. 

This could all be a placebo effect but so far it's helped in losing weight and keeping my mind sharp. Check out the link below for what I've been using. 

Amazon.ca : http://amzn.to/2kWDmI1

BIRRY READS: The Go-Giver: A little Story about a Powerful Business Idea

The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea, written by Bob Burg and John David Mann, is a short story that instills 5 laws of giving. Unlike other self help books that use historical narratives or a first person narrative, this book explains their five laws by uses simple characters. The story arch is simple enough to follow and the book isn't that long.

At a very young age, my mom taught me the art of giving. Not performance giving, but the authentic type, where you don't expect anything in return. The giving in which you want to give because you genuinely want to help others. I remember as soon as I could drive, I would volunteer my time to drive my friends home, drove my grandma, aunts, uncles to appointments, drove anyone who needed a ride. I never did it for anything in return but because it was instilled in my at a young age that helping others is valuable. 

The book has reaffirmed the way that I live my life and how I conduct myself. There has been times where I felt that perhaps I gave too much. In hindsight, I'm starting to see the long term effects of the history of my giving, especially since I moved back to my old office building. As an 'ah ha' moment, I can certainly say that the laws that this book illustrates work and will work. It's about patience in the end and not doing it for the reward. The art of giving is a true form of honesty and authenticity. Don't give because you expect a return, if you do that, you're a matcher. Give because you want to help with no strings attached. For example, this blog is for me to help you discover new books, products, and restaurants. I have no ads on my blog except for affiliated Amazon links. Having said that, I don't expect you to use those links as there are places that could be cheaper. This blog is for me to express my creativity while creating value for you, the audience. 

I'm not sure if this book can change the way people think if they're not a giver already but I do suggest you give it a try. It's 2 hours or less of your time and $14.00 but it could be potentially life changing.I'm rambling, but if you're interested in this book, you can find it using my amazon link http://amzn.to/2lmwUwH

100 Tricks To Appear Smart In Meetings by Sarah Cooper

A while back, there was a post that went viral on BuzzFeed regarding 13 Tricks to Appear  Smart in Meetings. The tips were sourced from Sarah Cooper's book, "100 Tricks To Appear Smart In Meetings", which is a satire and not 100 honest tricks. I needed a break from all the self help books that I've been reading so I figured a humorous look at the one thing I hate the most about my job, meetings. 

Sarah Cooper via TheCooperReview.com

Sarah Cooper via TheCooperReview.com

Sarah Cooper via TheCooperReview.com

Sarah Cooper via TheCooperReview.com

Sarah Cooper via TheCooperReview.com

Sarah Cooper via TheCooperReview.com

Reading through all 100 tricks were entertaining although a lot of the ones I couldn't relate to and I don't think that's the point. I know most people will have a couple in common but I can't see anyone having all 100 tricks that the actually do! For example, I actually use the, "Let's take a step back" trick and I think it's actually pretty good. Please remember, these are not actual tricks you should use although I find it hilarious that some of us actually use them in real life meetings. 

One of my personal favourites in the book is what we do during one on one meetings: 1. Talk about the weather 2. Praying our coworker doesn't cry 3. Trying to end 15 minutes early 4. Trash-talking other coworkers 5. dreaming of a career where you get to "Work with your hands". Although I don't do all of the above, I still found them amusing enough and know of people that probably have done one or all of them. 

If you're interested in check out the rest of the 90 tricks, you can use the following link to get your own copy, http://amzn.to/2ldn8gG

The Logitech MX Master: Dominating the market?

I was in the market for a mouse and tech review after tech review, the recommendation was the Logitech MX master. It's a wireless mouse that comes with a dongle, 7+ buttons with gesture control, in a sleek finish. 

Well I'll be damned, this is a nice looking mouse, but in the end, it's just a mouse. How does it feel in the hand? Great, actually really good. My average sized hands seem to fit perfect with the mouse. The whole purpose of buying this mouse was to program the different keys for different programs, but more specifically Final Cut Pro. 

So far, the only function that I've programmed differently is the horizontal scroll which allows me to browse my timeline. Other than that, I'm somewhat disappointed to find out that I can't customize things like cut or add select functions to the mouse. The fancy functions that it touts is the gesture control, press down with your thumb and drag up, down, left, or right. To be honest, it doesn't feel natural. The force trackpad on my MacBook Pro feels way more intuitive than the mouse. 

Bottom line, the hype is not real with this mouse, I even found that the clicking of the buttons seem overly loud. I'm just being over critical at this point but I've had major connectivity issues with it when I wake my Mac. Sometimes it doesn't connect and I have to manually connect the bluetooth settings. Apparently it's a thing with Macs and there is no ETA on the fix for this. Based on the reliability of the bluetooth connection, my recommendation is to pass on this mouse.

Cheapest is on amazon for just under $100 http://amzn.to/2kUFXFU

As always, thank you for reading my blog and please reach out in the comments below, DM me using Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter @Birryram. 

Review: Transcend Jet Drive Lite 330 128GB

This is a quick review of the Transcend Jet Drive Lite 330, which is the 128GB model made for the 13 inch MacBook Pro Retina (it also comes in a 64GB model). The Jet Drive is also made for the MacBook Air and 15 inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, not the new ones with thunderbolt 3 for obvious reasons.

Why do you want this? Well, if you have lots of documents that don't require the speed of a SSD (Solid State Drive), it's best to utilize the card reader full time. I for one would rather spend the $100 to expand my storage than spend several hundreds for an upgraded SSD. So far, I'm using it to store my already processed videos, pictures, and downloaded files. This frees up space for when I'm in Final Cut Pro processing videos and rendering them afterwards. 

One thing you need to do before using is to open the Mac's Disk Utility to format it into a Mac file hierarchy which is real simple. Other negative is that it's sort of difficult to remove the disk once it's in your reader slot. It's designed to sit pretty flush with the MacBook so it doesn't snap off or get caught on anything. I found the read and write speeds pretty quick but other reviewers have mentioned of inconsistencies with the read and write speed. For me, I'm not too concerned with that, as long as it works, I'm good!

There are a lot of different options out there to expand the storage on your MacBook, I just went with the trusted brand. Let me know if you have any questions! Thanks for reading!

Purchase here from Amazon.ca - http://amzn.to/2l2LPch