Dinner at Aureole Restaurant

Aureole Restaurant

One thing I always like about going to Vegas is trying new restaurants. Sunday night after I got in a hardware vendor invited many members of the press to a dinner to catch up and discuss their plans for the upcoming year. I really like these type of events at CES as they are more laid back and of course I get to enjoy a good meal. The dinner was held at Aureole restaurant in Mandalay Bay, which is a Charlie Palmer restaurant. Aureole is famously known for its massive wine tower where “Wine Angels” will zip up and down to get your wine for you.

Aureole is not normally open on Sunday’s, but they opened the restaurant for us. The restaurant set up a 3-course dinner for us that did give us a few different options. Also little mini appetizers were served, which were quite good.

Aureole Restaurant

For my first course I selected the Petite Greens and Hand Picked Herbs by “Diane Farms”. I have really become a fan of salads with fruit in them and the dry cranberries and pear in this salad really made it great.

Aureole Restaurant

For my main course I went with the blue cheese crusted filet mignon. The picture below really does not do it justice at all. It was extremely good and seasoned perfectly. The blue cheese on top was not needed, but added extra flavor.

Aureole Restaurant

Finally for dessert I selected the pumpkin spice creme brulee, I mean it’s pumpkin spice! It was actually a very large serving, but again was very good!

Aureole Restaurant

Overall it was a great meal and the perfect way to start of CES week. The next time I am in Las Vegas I would like to try Aurole again and see the “Wine Angels” in action.

Aureole on Urbanspoon

Wow! What a Vegas Trip This Year!

Swimming at the Hugh Hefner Suite

Each year in January I head to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics show and every year I don’t think it can compare to the year before, but this year really blew many of my previous trips out of the water. It seemed like everything fell into place this year and I did some things in Vegas I’ve never done before!

I’ve explained here on the blog before why I love the CES trip, but I will go over it again. While it is technically a work trip it is also one of the few times I get to see so many friends that I have in the industry. It is a great feeling seeing people you do business with all year and at times it seems like one big party. I think that the CES trip is the perfect balance of work and play and that’s what makes it so great.

So as far as work went this year I only had two other guys come with me to cover the show (Jack & Derrick). Jack has been coming to CES with me since 2009 and this was Derrick’s second year. Having a 3-man team left us a little short-handed, but I think we did a great job covering the show and the guys really did a good job keeping up. On ThinkComputers we have 66 CES articles published and 52 videos on our YouTube. I do not think that is bad at all!

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When it came to partying this year I had a great time, but still kept a good balance. I would say out of all of the industry parties (I only went to 4) the MSI party was the best. It was at Moon in the Palms and they actually had a good DJ and people were dancing and having a good time! I have been in the Hugh Hefner suite at the Palms in the past, but I have never gone swimming in the pool on the balcony there, well that happened this year! I also went to Hakkasan with friends in the industry one night and we had a blast!

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At the end of the week we decided to get a 2-bedroom suite at Palms Place and just like last year with Vdara it was a great way to end the week and finish strong. Stay tuned for an entire post on that suite! I think the biggest thing this year was that I was a little less stressed, things were getting done and if something did go wrong I took it in stride and did not flip out. Also Jack and Derrick really helped out a bunch this year and made it possible to get up as much content as we did. Remember you are only as strong as your team!

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Expect post on many of the highlights of the trip!

Thanks to everyone that made this years CES trip so memorable, see you all next year!

Guide To Surviving CES as a Journalist

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Well it is January and that means it is CES time for me. CES is the Consumer Electronics Show and it is the biggest trade show in North America. I have been going to the show and covering it for ThinkComputers since 2006 so I think by now I am a seasoned veteran and know my way around pretty well. Here are some tips to surviving CES if you are covering the show.

Schedule Meetings Together – This is huge! Not all of your meetings will be on the show floor. They will most likely be spread out between different hotels and meeting rooms throughout Las Vegas. It is best to schedule your meetings together. What I mean by that is if 4 companies who are at the Venetian want to meet with me I will schedule all of them in on day and close together. That way I am not running around Vegas from meeting to meeting. I made that mistake my first year at CES!

Comfortable shoes and clothes – CES is the largest trade show in North America and that means there is going to be a lot to cover. Do yourself a favor and make sure you wear comfortable shows and clothes. I again made this mistake my first time going to the show. I cam home with multiple blisters!

Make Use of the Monorail – The monorail is a life saver! While it does get extremely crowded during CES it is still one of the fastest ways to get to the convention center, just make sure you get there early enough because there will be a line. Also using the monorail will save you much more money than getting cabs. Another good idea would be to stay at a hotel on the strip that is close to a monorail station.

Make sure you eat and get some sleep – This is a big thing that I really did not consider my first couple of CES trips. CES is sort of like marathon. You have meetings all day, press events after that then industry parties all night. On top of that you are rushing to get content out. It is very important to try and get as much sleep as you can and to eat. I know it is very hard to eat healthy in Vegas, but that also goes a long way.

Be prepared for horrible internet – In my experience each different hotel that I’ve stayed at has horrible Internet during the week of CES. There are just so many people in Vegas and of course we are all online getting content out and uploading videos etc. The internet at your hotel is going to be horrible, so prepare for that. The only place that I’ve experienced good internet during CES was Vdara and it was their wired connection.

RELAX! – Finally the last piece of advice I am going to give you is to relax! CES is an extremely hectic week and it is easy to get stressed out. Just calm down and relax. If you happen to be late for a meeting or something else happens companies are used to it and it will not be a big deal. Being stressed during CES is not a fun thing!

Well I hope this guide has given you some pointers if you are covering the show this year!

10 Things I Could Have Done Better in 2014 (And How I Plan to Fix Them)

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2014 is coming to an end and it is time to reflect on the year I’ve had and look forward to what is to come in 2015. I have already listed the 10 things I kicked ass at in 2014, so it comes the time to think about my mistakes and the things I could have done better in 2014. In addition to just listing the things I could have done better this year I am actually going to tell you how I plan on fixing them! So let’s get started!

1. Time Management – This is something I still struggle with. I like to procrastinate and it seems sometimes I never get things done that I need to. So how do I plan on fixing it? First each day I am going to make a real to-do list. I was using a few websites to do this, but I find that having a real to-do list works for me much better.

2. Was easily distracted – This has a lot to do with time management. I always hate getting distracted by Facebook, YouTube, an interesting article online, etc. I plan to remedy this by not having any of these sites of social media open when I am working. Get my work done, then I can check back up on these sites. Also if I stumble across and interesting article or something like that I am going to bookmark it and get back to it later once my work is done.

3. Did not put out my best work – This is something that I really regret doing in 2014. Many of the reviews I wrote in 2014 were rushed and were not my best work at all. I did not put my all into them and it shows in the writing. I have been working on this and I am only going to put out my best work from now on. I had been having trouble getting in the “writing” mood and have had writers block, but I have found some ways to get around that which I will cover in an upcoming blog post.

4. Exercise & Working Out – This yeah I was quite lazy when it came to working out and keeping in shape. This has obviously showed and I do not like it. I have slowly been going back to the gym and that is a start. I want to make it a point to make it to the gym at least 3 times a week, but I really want to get back to where I was going once a day in the morning before I start work. It has started, but I need to stick with it!

5. Not a lot of variety in my travel – As I said in my post about the things I kicked ass at this year I did travel a whole lot more. This is great, but there was not a whole lot of variety in my travel. Most of my trips were on the east coast and I went to the same places more than once. No tropical beaches, nothing overseas, etc. I definitely want to make my way overseas this year and experience other cultures.

6. Sort of became lazy with business – This year while business was good I sort of got lazy with it. I was making a comfortable living, but I did not strive for more. I should have been striving for more all year and I need to keep that mindset always. In 2015 I need to key my eye on the prize and keep building the business and working on it each day.

7. Did not blog as much as I would have liked – Over the past month I have blogged quite a lot, but over this past year I did not blog at all really. I think now I am in a real comfortable place where I enjoy blogging much more. Also setting up my weekly e-mail newsletter sort of makes me accountable for actually having at least one new blog post a week. Also I am now dedicating one night a week to come up with new blog ideas as brainstorming.

8. Drank way too much caffeine – This is actually pretty sad. There was a point in time this year where I HAD to get an AMP Energy drink every morning before I started work. Energy drinks like that are not that great for you. Over time this made me believe the only way I could be productive is if I went and got an AMP, it became a really bad habit. I hope to remedy this by drinking more tea and only drinking an energy drink or coffee once or twice a week if that.

9. Did not take a lot of time for myself – I have always enjoyed some alone time and time to clear my head. This year it seemed I really did not do this as much. I always loved going for a long walk around Schenley Park to clear my head and come up with ideas for my businesses. I plan on trying to do this (when weather permits) or some form of time by myself relaxing, brainstorming or clearing my head at least once a week.

10. Have not delegated as much as I should – As much as I love reviewing computer hardware I still want to be more of a manager of things at ThinkComputers. Since reviews are taking up a lot of my time I have less time to work on other areas of the site which have suffered this year. I have brought on one new reviewer in the past couple of months and I hope to bring more on after the craziness of CES.

So lets hope that in 2015 I work on these problems and have an even better year than 2014! Have a great day everyone!

Why I Enjoy Going to CES So Much

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It is getting to be that time of year again, where I gear up to travel to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. I cover CES for ThinkComputers as it is the premier event in North America to go to for technology. I posted a Facebook status about going and someone commented and actually asked if I actually enjoyed going to the show. Covering the show can be draining, but there are quite a few reasons why I really enjoy going to CES.

One of the biggest reasons I enjoy going to CES each year is that it is sort of a reunion of all of us who work in tech. If you work in tech you are more than likely going to be at CES. Over the years I have become friends with many tech site owners and other people in the tech world. Since we all live in different parts of the world we only get to see each other a couple times a year. So it is great to catch up and grab a beer with good friends.

CES is great for motivation for work! Most of the year I am sitting at home making unboxing videos, writing reviews and covering tech news. While I feel incredibly lucky that this is my full time job it does not feel like a job most of the time. There is no hustle and bustle like you may find a traditional jobs. At CES I am in meetings from 9-6PM then have a press event from 7-9PM then vendor parties into the late night. During that time I am rushing to get content from CES on the site and much more. The adrenaline rush feel awesome and it actually feels like I am really working!

I am a huge computer nerd at heart so going to any tech event is just great! CES is particular is awesome because we get to see many new products that may not come out till the end of the year or even at all. I usually don’t schedule any meetings the last day of the show so I can just roam around the convention show floor and check everything out.

Finally its Vegas! I live in Pittsburgh and its normally freezing in January and usually snowing too! Going to Vegas is a nice change where you can walk outside without a jacket on! On top of that there are so many fun things to do in Vegas. If you follow me on Instagram you know I am a foodie so going to Vegas is a great way to check out some of the best restaurants. And of course there is the club scene too, I am planning on seeing at least 3 DJs this year when I’m in town!

Well there is less than a week till I jump on a plane for Vegas, I am pumped!