The CES 2016 Swag Haul

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Each year when I head to Las Vegas for CES I come back with much more than I came with. This is because companies love to give away swag! You know those little goodies comopanies have at their booth or suite and give to you as a thank you for coming to see them. This year I had quite the haul!

Typically I always would talk about the free press bag that us journalist get, but it was a total joke this year! It was a drawstring bag that was probably the cheapest drawstring bag I’ve ever seen! I think the drawstring bag I have from when I bought a pair of shoes is better quality than this thing is!

Anyways I did get some pretty cool things this year though. The best thing would have to be a new graphics card! A new Sapphire R9 Fury Nitro is not a bad thing to come home with! Even though the official CES press bag was garbage Zotac gave me a really awesome backpack that can hold a laptop and much more! SilverStone gave me a pretty heavy duty lightning cable, which is awesome because you know how often those break! I typically always get t-shirts but CyberPower hooked me up with a really awesome sweatshirt. It is like one you would see an eSports player wearing. TP-LINK gave me a water bottle that has an infuser in it, which was pretty cool too. As always I came home with a bunch of new flash drives and bags I can use for shopping at the grocery store.

All in all I came home this year with a lot of goodies and many of them I am actually going to make use of!

Covering CES 2016…

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If you follow me on social media then you know this past week I was in Vegas for CES 2016. The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the largest trade show in North America and it is where tech companies show off their latest products. I of course was covering the event for ThinkComputers. Covering the event can be sort of crazy as the show only runs 3-4 days and it is hard to meet with all the companies you want to.

I think we did a great job this year though. We posted over 100 videos and close to 100 articles covering the show. That is almost a 50% increase from last year! Almost all of our content was posted as the show was going on as well. It is great to see the progression of our content and how I’ve improved at doing video content. Of course none of this would be possible without my team! Jack, Derrick, and Mark came with me this year. We separated into two teams: Me & Mark and Derrick & Jack. As I said I have really become comfortable in front of the camera, this was Derrick’s first year so he was a little nervous, but still did a good job. Here is one of the my favorite videos I did from the show.

All of our videos were shot with the Sony Alpha A6000 camera. This camera allows for 1080p video, which is much better than the 720p camera we were using last year. The small compact size of the camera made it easy to carry around the show. For audio we used the Sony ECM-WM1 wireless microphone system with a Sony ECM-CS3 Clip style Omnidirectional Stereo Microphone. The wireless system was much better than using wired mics that we have in the past. Although since they were Bluetooth there was a bit of interference in crowded areas. Also the lav mics were a bit cheap and I think we could of had better audio with better quality mics.

All of our video content was edited using Adobe Premier. I really recommend Adobe’s Creative Cloud for anyone that needs to use Photoshop, Premier or any other Adobe product. Mark did all of the video editing and he created our intro and outro clips as well. To render our videos our friends as Alienware provided us with a Alienware 17 laptop, which made encoding pretty fast! Running around to meetings I used Lenovo’s new Active Gaming Backpack, which is extremely comfortable and had more than enough room inside for accessories and my laptop.

CES is a real drain, you barely get any sleep and you are always on the move. To make sure I survived the week I always had something for breakfast, even if it was just a protein bar. I also made sure everyone had enough water, I had 2 cases of water delivered to our room at the beginning of the week! It is really easy to crash when you don’t eat or get enough water.

CES was a lot of fun to cover this year and I can’t wait to do it again next year!

How To Throw a Good CES Party

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The week of CES is a lot of fun and it seems like every night there are a few parties. CES parties are quite interesting because they are not like your typical party. Most of the people who work in the industry are not typically “party people” or at least not like the people who I party with on a regular basis. Because of this CES parties usually are not all that fun and are more or less networking events. I think that CES parties could be a lot more fun and I actually went to one this year that was a blast. Here are some tips on throwing a great CES party.

Venue – This is one of the most important things. If you have a bad venue your party is not going to be fun at all. I’ve been to parties in cramped hotel rooms and they are just not fun at all. Typically the better parties are thrown at clubs and large suites. Everyone tries to get into CES parties, I know I did my first few years when I was not invited to any! And they let me in! So you need to make sure the venue you pick can handle a lot of people, or be really strict on the guest list. More than likely the venue is something that most companies get right when planning a CES party.

Open Bar – This is a huge thing. If you are throwing at party you better have an open bar. It’s crazy to think, but I’ve actually been to CES parties where I had to pay for my drinks. This is just unacceptable. If I’m going to pay for my own drinks I would rather be at a bar or club talking to women!

Girls – Let’s face it, the industry is mainly made up of men. Getting girls to come to CES parties is a hard thing. Most companies normally hire girls for their parties, this is a good thing but you have to make sure these girls are very outgoing and make an effort to make sure everyone is having fun. Also whoever is organizing the party should make an effort to try and get the few females that do work in the industry to come, it just makes for a great mix of people.

Good Music / DJ – Music is what keeps the party alive. At the end of a long day of meetings we want to let loose and have fun. You need to have good music at your party for this to happen. So make sure you have a good DJ, not someone playing music on their iPod! A good DJ will keep thing up tempo and make sure everyone is having fun.

With all of that said there was one CES party this year that really had all of these things, it was the MSI Level Up Launch Party! Check out the video below of the party!

On a final note I’ve been slacking a little bit on finishing up my blog posts from my Las Vegas trip. I should be done with them this upcoming week and I have some great personal development posts coming, stay tuned!

Dinner at Aureole Restaurant

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!