What to Bring to Dreamforce, 2018 Edition

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Dreamforce (Salesforce’s annual conference) is rapidly approaching! I’ve been asked by a few people about what should they bring and what they should be aware about. Since I’ve been to Dreamforce 4 times so far (not this year though), I do have a pretty good idea of what to expect 🙂

I’m quite a gearhead (I’m a Eagle Scout) so I like being prepared for basically anything on the ground. I’ve seen a lot on the ground over the years and this list reflects that. Anything missing off this list? Let me know in the comments!

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Extra Life 2017 Recap

This past year was my 4th year participating in Extra Life. It’s an absolute blast for me. I truly enjoy the fundraising lead up throughout the summer as well as the 24 hour gaming marathon event in our office outside of Cleveland, Ohio. Every year, more and more people participate in our office and more people make it to daybreak and beyond. I did fall short of my goal this year ($2,500) and only raised $2,390 for the University Hospitals – Rainbow Babies and Children’s. We are very close to UH Rainbow – our son Cooper spent some time there over the holidays and we got to experience first hand how critical these dollars are to their programs and level of care they provide.

This year my gaming experience was different than years past – I brought a PC gaming rig for the first time ever AND played my first *ever* game of Dungeons and Dragons. Bringing a PC gaming rig allowed me to play with other coworkers that were PC only which was really awesome. I got in a few games of Overwatch and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds which got really tense at moments. Playing Dungeons and Dragons was really fun too – it was neat to see how 6 people could view something in our minds in the same way. I livestreamed my entire experience that night, you can see some clips below.

While I tried to stay up til noon on Saturday, I did fall asleep in a chair while playing Destiny. I caught this moment awkwardly on my livestream. Despite dozing, I did wake up in time for our annual Halo craziness in the morning as well as a team photo.

I’m very excited for this year’s event – year 5 for me! If you want, you can donate to my page here but I will be officially kicking off fundraising this summer.

Note: While this event is physically hosted by Acumen Solutions, my views/thoughts are my own. I don’t pretend to speak for Acumen and neither should you 🙂

Learning Procreate with Apple

Did you know that Apple offers free classes? They do! These topics can range from how to set up your iPhone to open studio “Office Hours” around projects you are working on. I got an email about a few classes that were happening a couple of weeks ago. One of the classes stood out to me was “Join a Sketch Walk” that featured Procreate. Procreate is a very cool iPad app that is similar to Adobe Photoshop. It’s a powerful tool that a lot of designers/artists use to create. Even my tattoo artist uses Procreate!

Since I already had Procreate, an Apple Pencil, and really enjoy doodling on my iPad Pro, I decided to sign up for the class and see how it was. I signed up for the “Sketch Walk: Architectural Sketching Techniques” class and patiently waited for that weekend to arrive. Turns out, I was the only participant that day (!), so I got to talk one on one with a resident Apple Genius that focused on teaching. This was really helpful for figuring out some cool stuff that I could do with my iPad that I didn’t know about. We wandered around outside taking pictures of a couple of scenes before we went inside the mall area at Eton to sketch.

The way that the class went from an architectural standpoint was observation. We would take photos of things we found interesting, observing things such as vanishing points, and trace over a photo using our iPads. I knew about the concept of tracing every since I was a kid in school. While I don’t have a lightbox currently, and my tracing skills aren’t great, I was still blown away at the concept they taught. We used the layers feature to trace over a photo (by hand) of the outline of the photo we used, then used various brushes to paint over the tracing. I had never thought of doing this before and the ease of actually getting it started really impressed me. Below is the photo that I took and what I traced over it.

While I am no Picasso (yet?), I really enjoyed this activity. It was similar to an adult coloring book in my opinion – nice and relaxing. It was awesome having one on one instruction and learning how to use equipment I already have in cool new ways! This program is called “Today at Apple” and you can check out offerings in your area here: https://www.apple.com/today/

 

What’s in my Bag: Google I/O 2017 Edition

Hi there! It’s been a while, I know. Life has been pretty crazy the last few months. Don’t worry, I’m still here.

Fun fact: I applied to Google I/O this year and actually got in. So, of course, I am going (woo!) and bringing along a slightly different kit than I normally do to a conference. I’m here to take notes (and meet people) so my setup is a bit different than in years past. Some of my notes might even make it to this blog (I’ll probably post an event recap at the very least). After years of traveling and attending conferences, I think I have a kit that is pretty dialed in.
Bag: Timbuk2 Custom Backpack (model no longer sold)


This reliable bag was actually a gift from Timbuk2 (Giftcard from a User Research Study) that I got while living in the Bay Area. While it looks stock, I did choose custom panels (bright red) and a reflective center panel (because why not) when I had it made. It’s traveled across the country several times, which is a common theme for my Timbuk2 bags. It has a dedicated laptop pocket, two water bottle pockets, an interior organizer, and a built in bottle opener. I’ve used this bag so much the stitching was starting to fray on a shoulder strap- Timbuk2 fixed it free of charge. This bag allows me to cram a bunch of stuff in it while carrying it comfortably. 
Writing Device: iPad Pro (9.7) with Keyboard and Apple Pencil


This is one of the big departures from my past kits. I’ve typically usually brought a laptop or Chromebook to take notes/blog at conferences but power is always an issue. It can be a hassle to find a plug and even if you do, you are stuck there while your device recharges. Apple finally released an iPad model with a physically connected keyboard (generally bluetooth keyboards to iPad is a lag fest) that works flawlessly. Not only is this a very compact setup, but I can also recharge from a battery pack on the go (I’m carrying 4 of them this year) so I don’t need to be tied down to an outlet. Additionally, I can handwrite or doodle using the Apple Pencil, which is (unsurprisingly) the best stylus I’ve ever used on an iPad. This inherent flexibility really gives a lot of options when it comes to notetaking. Live blogging is probably too difficult to really deal with but we will see this week. (Yes, I know you can draw on the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 but you cannot charge on the go).
Phone: Apple iPhone 7 Plus


My daily driver is an iPhone (gasp) and I’m going to a Google conference. Oh boy. In all seriousness, I went back to iPhone from Android almost two years ago when I got an Apple Watch Series 0 as a gift. Before I went back, I was hunting for a phone that had a great and reliable camera but never found it on Android. Anyways, I never left the Apple ecosystem so coming back wasn’t difficult.
Other Phone: Samsung Galaxy S7 


Surprise! I’m also bringing an Android phone to a Google conference. As part of my job (plus I’m a huge nerd) I want to be fluent in both major phone operating systems. Thanks to a great deal at T-Mobile, I was able to snag an S7 at a great price. This allows me to have a true “work phone” while also letting me test apps and UI side by side. 
Cameras: Phones and Ricoh Theta S


Another huge change from my typical conference kit is I am leaving my DSLR at home. Size and weight is the main reason, followed shortly by most of the stuff I will be taking pictures of will be on slides that probably (?) will be shared. Both the iPhone and the S7 have very solid cameras which will help me document the talks. I’m also bringing my trusty Theta S on my Benro Monopod to capture some fun shots (and maybe even a session) in 360 degrees. 

Head Mounted Camera: Snapchat Spectacles 


The last fairly big change is the fact my Google Glass has basically become a museum piece. The camera sensor in it is going bad and combined with the lack of app support on both platforms, it’s been a struggle to use effectively. When I heard that I could order Snapchat’s Spectacles online, which is the closest thing to a replacement (kinda) right now, I jumped at the chance. It’s a very slick hardware setup and fairly easy to import 10 second clips via the Snapchat app. It’s not a “main” way of documenting stuff, but the POV video is a ton of fun!

Wearables: Fitbit Charge 2 and Apple Watch Series 0


Gotta get those steps! I’m rocking the updated version of the Charge for steps in my Fitbit world. On the other wrist is my Series 0 Apple Watch, which has effectively sidelined all of my mechanical watches for over the last year. Besides tracking activity to Apple’s activity app, I can get important notifications discreetly. 

Headphones: Bose QuietComfort 35


This headphones are life changing. One of my new favorite pairs of headphones, these are an enhanced version of the QC25 with built in Bluetooth. They are completely wireless (unless you want to plug them in) and offer best in class noise cancellation. While sometimes you can argue the Bose brand name is just that, a brand name – these are different. They REALLY work well on the ANC front and sound nice and clean. Cannot recommend them enough. However, since I will be at a conference running around, I’m not sure if I will wear these during the day as they can be isolating (on purpose).
Earbuds: Apple AirPods


I wasn’t planning on buying these. I took my MBP in for service one day and these caught my eye on the way out of the store (yes, they were in stock). It was a total impulse buy as my Jaybird X2 have been giving me cartilage cramps after very short periods (I have weird ears). EarPods have always fit in my ears without issue, these are no different. The bluetooth on these is notably different from all other bluetooth headphones I’ve used with an iPhone- I can tell the difference the W1 chip makes. This trip will be the first time I use them for an extended period of time (due to me sidelining the QC35) so I look forward to seeing how they perform.  
Gaming Device: Nintendo Switch


Well, I need to kill time in line (potentially) somehow, right? This console level system is portable, has two controllers by default, and I can play someone in Mario Kart 8 in line. I’m pretty stoked to see how this system performs on the road as I recently got it and haven’t had a ton of time to mess around with it. After slapping on an Anker screenguard, I did my research on a battery pack. The consensus was this model from Ravpower (which nicely comes with a few cables including USB-C to USB-C). This week I get to see how this battery pack holds up to the Switch’s power draining ways. Plus, I’m a gamer at heart so bringing some sort of gaming device was always in the cards.  
Reading Device: Kindle Oasis


While I’m not quite sure of the shuttle situation yet, if I am in a place with no one to talk to, I did bring along my new Kindle. This is an upgraded from a 3rd generation Paperwhite, so I get a DPI boost as well as more LEDs for backlighting. The integrated battery cover is a really nice bonus. It’s truly featherweight in the hand – you almost need the cover so you don’t feel like you are going to bend/break it! A Kindle has been my go-to device for traveling for years now as you can always read a book no matter where you are. 

Extra Life Update!

You can donate here: http://bit.ly/joeEL2016

The Extra Life event is THIS FRIDAY AND SATURDAY! I’m SO pumped for it, especially because I will be challenged like never before- I’m taking a red eye Thursday night from Vancouver, WA to arrive back in Cleveland around 9:30AM Friday morning. I’ll be fighting little sleep AND jetlag for this event (but it’s all worth it to raise money for the kids). Let my suffering go to good use and donate if you haven’t already.

This update is two parts: what I am playing and where you can find me. Broken out below are the games (hopefully I get to all of them and this is not a conclusive list). My gamertags are not below – ping me if you want join me (no doxxing please). If you want to join me virtually- you can! Send me a friend request to whatever ecosystem you are on and we will try to meet up.

Playstation 4

  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  • Eve: Valkyrie
  • Loading Human: Chapter One
  • Destiny (probably a Raid run specifically)
  • Job Simulator (see below)
  • Various VR games (VR demo disc, VR Worlds, Pub Fun)
  • No Man’s Sky

Xbox One

  • Battlefield 1
  • Titanfall 2
  • Halo 5 & Halo Master Chief Collection
  • Forza 5 (in honor of Henry)
  • Rock Band 4
  • Quantum Break (I need to finish this)
  • Rare Replay
  • Fallout 4 (I’ve already put 245+ hours into this game alone)

WiiU

  • Mario Kart 8
  • Super Smash Brothers
  • Mario Party

PC

  • CS:GO
  • Superhot
  • System Shock 2

Where you can find me this Friday/Saturday online:

Please note I’m going to be pushing a lot of these services (and even my devices) to their limits, so if I go offline I should be back up shortly.

Headed Back to San Francisco! 

Today I get on a plane to head back to San Francisco for the first ever (annual?) Google Local Guides Summit event. Over the next couple of days, a whirlwind of awesome activities are planned, some we aren’t aware of yet. One of the cooler parts of this event is the fact it is 75 people from around the world that are flying in for this invite only event (some flights were 18+ hours one way). While I am not sure what I will be able to share (read: NDA), you will see plenty of updates from me over the next couple of days regardless.
I’ve been a Local Guide since the concept started (we were living in San Francisco at the time). I truly enjoy helping people and spreading the word about the cool places we have discovered on a platform that a ton of people us is a perfect fit. With the addition of adding photos (including 360 degree photography) helped me plug another one of my passions in as well. When I applied to attend the summit, I had just broken 3 million photo views on Google Maps. Now, I’ve broken 5 million views with only 368 photos. A large percentage of these are 360 degree photos, which lead me to getting a Google Trusted badge for 360 photos (which is a teaser for another announcement). I’m absolutely stoked to meet other 360 photographers and learn from them.


Another cool part of this trip is experimenting with a new workflow. I recently upgraded to an 9.7” iPad Pro with an Apple smart keyboard (it’s much faster and more accurate than a Bluetooth keyboard). Not only will that be my daily driver (yup, left the laptop at home) but I will also be messing around with Adobe Lightroom on the iPad with RAW files from my DSLR. The last time I did this was in Prague in 2011 and it did not end well so I am hoping that things have changed in the last 5 years (official RAW support now doesn’t hurt). Will my workflow crumple under the load? I’m not sure, but I do intend to find out. In fact, I’m writing this post on GDocs on the iPad right now and posting to WordPress from that. I’ve brought several cameras (Google Glass, Theta S, GoPro Hero4, DSLR, iPhone) with me so I am really interested to see what footage I can grab/process/share and what footage I cannot. 

In Memory Of Henry Sterne

Today I’m boarding a plane to go put my brother Henry in the ground at our family plot in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. For those readers who didn’t know, my brother tragically perished in a freak car accident on August 6th, 2016 in the early morning. He was driving a new (to him) Honda S2000 convertible headed to Katie’s Cars and Coffee and swerved into a dirt berm right over an apex of a hill (we think its a deer that caused the accident).

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Welcoming Cooper David Sterne

cooper david sterne, university hospitals, cleveland, not so sterne photography

You might have wondered where we have been over the first part of 2016. Admittedly my blogging fell off a cliff and now I can share one of the main reasons why.

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#projectfilm Time Capsule – Cleveland Metroparks & Squaw Rock

#projectfilm, 35mm film, canon ae-1, cleveland, metroparks, squaw rock

In this edition of the #projectfilm time capsule series, we go back in time almost a year to when Jules, Claude, Bekah, and I explored the Cleveland Metroparks (specifically Squaw Rock) with the trusty AE-1. While my AE-1 wasn’t the only camera with me (a fact that shouldn’t shock you), it was this roll that I did finish and put away for later. If you want to see my Squaw Rock photos from last here- click here for the other cool shots I got.

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