Why I spend money on experiences and not things

This has always been a funny one for me because I never really thought about it. In fact I kind of thought the opposite of what the reality is.

I’ve always found myself finding the money to travel, whatever my situation. Whether it’s saving or going ultra-budget. I’m always someone who tries to get value so I’m very rarely using luxury transport or accommodation. Now I have friends who love spending their money on objects. And I always thought ‘yeah that makes sense‘, I mean once this trip has finished they still have their new clothes or watch etc. I always thought that I was kind of being foolish spending it on things that don’t last. But actually, it’s quite the opposite of that.

My trip may have only lasted a few days or even a few weeks but the change that it has on the way I think and feel lasts forever. On the other hand the novelty of buying material things wears of really quickly. Really quickly. Be honest with yourself. The most excitement that you get from something you buy is before you buy it. That’s when you really want it. When you’re scouring the internet looking at pictures of it. When you’re tracking the DPD truck waiting for it’s delivery. Then once you have it, have held it for a while, it all wears off. You don’t feel like that anymore. Now you shouldn’t feel guilty about that, it’s just the way we are, but you should understand yourself and use it to make future decisions.

Now I’m not saying I don’t spend money on material things and I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy them. In fact I am a keen horologist (posh word for watch enthusiast). I do however know what makes me most happy and spending money on experiences does that for me. I will always prioritise a trip over a watch. In fact I have had a particular watch on the back burner for a while now but I found the money to make this skiing trip to the Alps that I’m currently on whilst writing this. Because I love to travel I am constantly trying to fit all of my posessions into a suitcase, meaning the less I have the better. I very rarely take more than 1 or 2 watches with me, so when I think about it like this it’s even more reason not to buy more.

Another reason why I always feel so obliged to be a “yes man” when it comes to travel and doing things is the fact that every experience is once in a lifetime and can never be repeated. Even trips that you can do again and again in the future will never be the same. Some trips have even more uniqueness, for example that friend you may be going on the trip with may not be there next time for whatever reason. Material things can always be bought in the future and they will be exaclty the same as if you bought them today. Some things I do now I am realistically not going to be able to do in 30 years, dispite now much yoga I do until then! But I can always buy a watch when I’m 60. I feel it’s always important to seize the opportunity when it presents itself because it will never be the same again. Ever.

To add to the differences between experiences and material possessions, it is impossible to know what will happen during the former and almost certain what will happen if you spend your money on the latter. Maybe that is a plus point of buying things for you, and if it is that’s fine, but for me that uncertainty of a trip is irresistible. This current trip to The Alps has far surpassed expectations for me and is a complete contrast to some of the recent trips to Asia I have become so fond of. That uncertainty and endless opportunities is the beauty of life. That’s why I’m pretty happy to be here.

Life has endless possibilities, we just need to stop doing the same predictable things.

And that’s why I spend my money on experiences and not material possessions. Enjoy your day.

The perfect laptop doesnt exis-

Okay so the perfect laptop is rather subjective. But having recently investing a large amount of time into researching portable computer options I thought I may as well pass my knowledge on to anyone who is looking at either making a desktop to laptop transition as I was or wants to upgrade their laptop computer. I am going to assume you have decided on a Windows based laptop, if you want to pay for an over-priced (but sexy looking) Mac then go ahead there are only a couple of options to choose from; but if you really want to get value for money then this article will tell you what you need to look out for.

Okay so as I said the perfect laptop to you is going to be entirely dependent upon your needs. So what do you want it for?

Multimedia work (me)

Gaming (a little me )

Maximum portability with light usage

So with each goal you are going to have to balance the desired features with your budget. For a multimedia laptop your priorities are going to be large screen with solid specs and dedicated graphics card also known as GPU or GFX. For a gaming rig you will want similar specs to a multimedia computer with priority to the GPU over the CPU (Central Processing Unit or Processor). When portability is priority then you are going to have to have to compromise on power for size unless you have a larger budget.

Okay so let’s break down the components you are going to be looking for

CPU

So think of this as the brain of the computer, it processed all tasks that you carry out and is a main priority for doing heavy multimedia work and also gaming. Now as far as technology goes you are going to want to stick with Intel on this one. AMD is another produced of CPUs but I would steer away from these for laptops. I actually have an AMD CPU in my desktop computer which runs fine but by all accounts, you should stick to Intel for laptops. I have heard good things about the latest AMD Ryzen proccesors however so it may be worth checking those out.

Now Intel’s main processors come in the shape of i3, i5 and i7, they also have some less powerful models such as the Atom and Celeron. These will be listed as having a number of cores, single, dual or quad and also a clock speed 1ghz, 2ghz 3ghz etc. As you may have guessed, the higher the better with clock speed and depending on your usage type a higher number of cores is also beneficial. But there are some other things to consider. The newer technology is both smaller and more efficient. The generations of Intel’s CPUs can be listed or derived from the first number of their name e.g. the i7-7700HQ is a 7th generation i7. The latest generation as I write is the 8th generation. Now if you’re ant portability you are going to want a new CPU but you can compromise on power if you don’t require it so look from a 7th/8th generation i3 or i5. For the large amount of multitasking I do for my job an i7 is best suited as it uses multithreading technology which will benefit me and has more cores. Now each processor will differ, so I recommend comparing any that you are considering which can be checked online using benchmark tests. (Google is your friend here). But as a rule of thumb, if you don’t require intensive software then you can get away with an i3 or i5 for some more speed, if you require gaming then you will want an i5 or i7 but an i5 with a better graphics card is going to be better than an i7 without. Then if you want a multimedia laptop then go for the more powerful processor with more cores and a high clock speed.

GPU

So this is the graphics card and will be very important for gaming and multimedia work such as photoshop and video editing. If you are using your laptop for normal day to day usage, then your processor will have an inbuilt graphics capability which will be more than fine. If your specs say Intel graphics” then this means that there is no dedicated graphics card and will just utilise the on-board graphics from the CPU. Look out for memory size with these eg 1gb, 2gb 4gb etc. with the higher the better. 2gb should be fine for heavy multimedia usage and basic gaming then 4gb plus for heavy gaming. Now like CPUs the GPUs are made primarily by Nvidia but also AMD. Same rule applies in my opinion stick to Nvidia graphics they are my far the most used and compatible. Whilst I was researching two of the main models for GPUs were the NVIDIA® GeForce® MX150 and NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1050. The 1050 is the better option here and what I opted for. This is closer to the range that you get for desktop computers, my system at home uses a GTX 1080. The MX150 is more of a mobile graphics card but is about as cheap as you will find a dedicated graphics card in a mobile computer making it fine for moderate multimedia usage. If you are going to be using your machine more for gaming, you want to prioritise the graphics card and so will be looking at something stronger. GPUs also come in different combinations so look out for that you can get the GPU in 2gb or 4gb the higher one will be advised more for gaming or a more powerful card such as a 1060, 1070 or 1080 with the higher number being the more powerful.

RAM

RAM is short for Random Access Memory and is often referred to as memory which can be confusing as some people often think that your memory is your storage. The RAM is basically your “fast memory” and will store all the things that you need quickly whilst using your computer. This means that the more memory you have the more things you can have access to at a high speed. If you do a lot of multi-tasking with multiple windows and programmes running at the same time, then you will need more memory. 4gb of ram is fine for normal usage, 8gb of ram can handle higher multi-tasking and then look for 16gb if you are going to be doing heavy multitasking. Here I had to compromise as I couldn’t find a 16gb model within my budget, but I can add another stick of RAM at a later date if needed. Another thing to note is the type of RAM, newer models will use DDR4 RAM which is much faster than the old DDR3 technology of older models.

Storage

As mentioned people often get memory confused with storage. Storage is your hard drive (HDD) or now solid-state drive (SSD). This is where you will be storing any documents, photos and installing programmes so the more the better. It isn’t quite as simple as this however. Traditionally we just used HDDs and you needed to look at read and write speed as well as capacity. We now have the newer technology of the SSD which is becoming a staple in modern computers. An SSD is much faster than a HDD and will speed up your computer if you use it. However, with this speed comes a price; size. Affordable SSDs are small usually 128gb or 256gb. For me this is not a viable option for me as I store a large number of files. If you are not going to have a excessive amount of programmes or documents, then go for a 128gb SSD it will make your system much faster than a HDD. If you want a bit of space for storing photos and videos, then go for a 256gb SSD (Windows takes up about 40gb right off the bat!). If you need more than this, then you need to compromise with either speed or cost. I opted to get a system with both a SSD and HDD. The smaller SSD is used for my most used programmes and then the larger HDD will be used for storing files. If you are gaming, then you will definitely need a larger drive as games can take up a lot of space. If you go for an SSD then they will run faster but you may have to uninstall games that you don’t use often.

Screen

Now screen size is a hard one as it can get quite technical. The main things you want to look out for is resolution i.e. 1920 x 1080 (Full HD), size and time. 15.6″ is a good size, below that I would class as small and above that such as 17″ would be a larger screen. If you are gaming or doing graphics work, then you will want 15.6″+ or if you are more concerned about portability then a smaller screen is usually more advantageous. With regards to type then anyone who is concerned about colour representation for graphics work will need to look for an IPS display as this is much more consistent. If you go for an LED or other type, then the colour display can vary a lot depending on what screen you are viewing on.

My final decision: the Acer Aspire 7

So those are the main components broken down for you to find the best system for you. Other things to note are build quality and how the specs work together. With this your best bet is to narrow your search down to a few models and then find some detailed reviews of the pros and cons of each and viewing them in a store if possible. Personal aesthetics obviously come into play with sleek and sexy finishes being popular for the more mobile devices and the cooler futuristic designs of the gaming specific laptops. Another thing to look out for is weight, the more gaming and multimedia laptops will also be chunkier at over 2kg whereas some smaller ultra-portable devices can come in under 1kg!

Hope this guide gave you a little insight to the minefield of buying a new laptop. The same principles can also be applied to a desktop, but you will get a much more powerful machine for your money. I’d even recommend buying the parts yourself and them assembling them on your own for a desktop, but that’s another story for another day!

Be sure to ask any questions you have with regards to your own system and I’ll do my best to help.

Work hard and be patient

So with the dawn of another year it’s a great time to reflect upon where we are and where we are going. How happy are we? What should we do to change? The typical new year’s resolution are all very well and good but are usually forgotten by February.

Now if we really want to make something happen in our lives then we really need to work out exactly what we need to change. Because if we keep on doing what we’ve always done then, well you know what happens then. So let’s say you want to start your own business for the new year. How is that gonna happen? Just magically? You need to workout where you want to be and how you’re going to get there. What’s you’re idea? Don’t have one? Okay so you need to think of one. How is that going to happen? You need to expose yourself to problems that consumers face and workout a way to solve them. Spend time developing ideas and not just waiting for one to pop into your head.

Already have an idea? Great. Now where do you want your business to be this time next year? Already established and selling online? Okay sounds good so let’s work backwards from that as to how you’re going to make it happen. At this point are you going to be just working for yourself? Or will you still be working another job to pay for your income? The answer will probably depend on what your lifestyle responsibilities are. If you’ve got a family and bills to take care of then you need a stable income, that’s okay but you’re going to have to work harder. Maybe change to a job that is more inline with what business you want to run so your time isn’t completely wasted. You can learn the industry as you go along. another alternative is to get a job that requires as little devotion as problem and allows you to spend time working on your own business.

So you’re going to need a website to sell online. Are you going to get someone to do it for you? Or are you going to do it yourself? If you do it yourself that’s great you save money but you need to research design and learn how to code. So you get started onto that.

How are you going to find the time to do this? Now this is a tough one. You might think you’re already too busy now. But you’ve gotta find time. We’ve got 24 hours in the day. You sleep for maybe 7. You work for what? 7 hours per day? Maybe more but maybe you get weekends off who knows. Let’s go with 7. That’s 10 hours that you can dedicate to something else. So workout what you’re doing with that 10 hours. Facebook? YouTube? Did you just watch two episodes of The Walking Dead? You’ve got to prioritise. Whenever you’re doing something that isn’t helping you towards your longterm goals, think “Why am I doing this?”, “Is it because I’m bored?”, “What else could I be doing?”

Now okay so I can break down the ways and means of doing all of this but there’s still something else that’s holding you back. I know. Even if it’s just a little bit. Social pressure. You’re parents, partner, friends. They don’t believe in your dream like you do. But that’s okay, it’s not their dream. Maybe their dream died a long time ago. Don’t let them kill yours. You’ve got to do it for yourself. Maybe you’ve got to go back wards before you go forwards. Maybe you’re afraid if you do that you will be stuck one step behind your friends. But you don’t want the same thing that your friends want. So why do you care what they have?

Sometimes you’ve got to make sacrifices to make your dreams come true. Financially and socially. Maybe you want to buy a new car right now or a new watch. But you know what? Investing that money into yourself is gonna buy you ten watches later down the line. You’ve just got to be patient. Work hard and be patient.

Here’s to a new year!

How to deal with negative reviews

 

“A salty reply to a customer is far more damaging to your brand than the negative review itself.”

How to deal with negative reviews:

For anyone running a public Facebook page, this is a very common problem. (I take my hat off to you if it isn’t). Negative reviews. Since the dawn of social media people have made it their quest to voice their opinion on whatever topic they desire. Now of course this is one of the great things about social media and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but if you look closely I’m sure you will come to realise that for whatever reason we as human beings love to focus on the negative and not the positive. When someone has a negative experience with your brand their immediate reaction is to take to social media to shame them and let them know. Sound familiar? There are two main reasons behind this:

1. Unfortunately humans are much more passionate about negative experiences. When we experience them we are instantly filled with anger and frustration, we want to vent this anger somewhere. When we experience a positive experience we just enjoy it and aren’t as eager to express our feelings.
2. Because of the “Glass house” structure of social media it means that brands cannot hide behind poor customer service. Dialogue can be seen by everyone and must be seen to be resolved. This allows people to “shame” brands into taking action and dealing with their complaint.

Now as a social media society I believe it is important to teach people to try and spread more positive experiences and use social media for good but as individual brands we don’t have much control over the majority of the internet. We can’t really change the passionate reactions that people experience when they encounter negative experiences so there is no point losing sleep over it. For those of you who don’t know Facebook reviews cannot be deleted. As long as it isn’t violating Facebooks terms and conditions then it’s there to stay. You can’t just delete it like you can other comments. Now this is a good thing as it prevents brands from cherry-picking their reviews and thus giving a fabricated account of themselves. It makes it easier for consumers to trust our services and gives more weight to review scores. And of course this can also be a bad thing giving those same consumers great power in terms of your brand, or does it? I have worked with people who had avoided Facebook for years because they were too scared that people were just going to be constantly negative on it. You cannot live with this fear, it will cripple your business.

So how do you deal with this? Well you do have the option of disabling reviews for your Facebook page but this really is a last resort as you will lose all of that trust that comes with open reviews as I have just mentioned. Instead the main thing that you need to take away with you is to focus on the positive. Don’t let the fear of negative reviews slow you down. Focus on the positives. Focus on your service or product. Focus on making it the best that it can be. Focus on all of the positive experiences you can give to people. As mentioned people are more likely to express negative experiences but a lot of people love to express their positive experiences. You need to focus on two things:

1. Give people positive experiences. Make sure your product or service is the best if can be because trust me no amount of marketing can fix a terrible product!
2. Encourage people to leave positive reviews or contact you if they have complaints. Increasing the amount of positive reviews will mean that negative reviews can’t really hurt you.

And that’s it. Stay positive and focus on the good things. Reviews are a great way to prove that your product is better than your competitors. Sure you will get some people who are overly harsh and critical of your service but so does everyone else. Just make sure every negative review pushes you harder to get more and more positive ones. Make sure you reply in a professional manner and treat every review as genuinely as possible no matter how much you disagree with it. A salty reply to a customer is far more damaging to your brand than the negative review itself.