Saturday, October 28, 2017


The Denon DJ MCX8000 is a game changer. I make this bold statement because it’s the first controller that blurs the line between midi DJ controllers and standalone media players in a very effective way. It’s rugged, and boasting a full metal face plate the MCX8000 feels solid, ready to withstand heavy use.

Rather than going through what the MCX8000 can do, it would be easier to state what it cannot do. Short from toasting your bread and preparing your coffee in the morning, this is a true “Swiss knife” of DJ controllers. Let’s look a bit closer at what the DENON DJ MCX8000 is capable of.

The MCX8000 being a standalone controller, it can work without a PC. In order to prepare your music before transferring it to USB, Denon DJ has upgraded their music preparation software called Engine to version 1.5. It allows you to import your music library from, let’s say, iTunes or even Serato DJ. When you import from Serato DJ, Engine will carry over your cue points. This means, of course, less work to do. Once you have analyzed and prepared your tracks, export them to a USB stick and you are ready to go!

Switching from Engine to PC or to an external source is a breeze. Simply flip the switch on top of line 1 or 2 on the mixer and the mode changes. Only channel 1 & 2 support Engine, so no 4 channel mixing when in standalone mode.

With all this, the level of flexibility that the MCX8000 provides is…unprecedented. Think about it. You can have turntables or media players hooked up to the MCX8000 that work in standalone or through DVS (you need the Serato DJ DVS extension pack for that). At the same time, the controller is working with Serato DJ through the PC Link on channels 1 & 2, with the option to switch to USB at any time seamlessly. I mean, with a setup like that, there is absolutely no excuse when it comes to managing glitches (PC crash, media player meltdown…) during a gig. Unless the place burns down with all your gear in it of course…
And it does Serato Too…

The controller is at its best when hooked up to a PC or Mac and working with Serato DJ. In this mode, all the functions of the decks are unlocked. Additionally, you can use the DVS and Video expansion packs from Serato DJ with the MCX8000 as well. More on that later.
Build In Screens

So the controller is flexible. But with so many ways of using the controller, how do the different functionalities behave when hooked up to Serato DJ versus Engine? Let’s start with the screens.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wildgame Innovations Mirage 16 Lightsout/August 21, 2017

The next set of cameras I am digging into for Wildgame Innovations is the Mirage models. This is the black flash version, noted LIGHTSOUT. This is a medium sized camera, narrow and long-ish, that resembles a piece of wood. It is similar in design to the Cloak series but is a bit wider I believe to accommodate a wider LED flash unit. Access to buttons, sd card and batteries are from a flap on the bottom. The screen is a simple text only and back lit but the buttons are not. This is not for the visually challenged. I am experienced with this tiny Wildgame style screen as it is not a new design. I find I have to remove my glasses and pull the camera closer to my face to see it more clearly. If you are under 40 you shouldn’t have an issue.

The setup is no nonsense and simple. Set date/time, and choose from only seven (7) options, photo or video mode, PIR interval, PIR sensitivity, Resolution, etc. The camera although it has 4 more options than the Cloak is still easy to set up. Very easy provided you can see this tiny blue screen with black writing in a font size only a bird of prey can appreciate. There are more options opened to the owner on the Mirage than on Cloak which makes the unit more configurable for the owners environment. More notably a shorter minimum delay from 15s on Cloak to 5s on Mirage.

The camera is a black flash camera and the flash is not visible. The LED array is fairly small and hidden behind a decal/break up pattern on the black plastic. I like this design and it provides just enough break up without diminishing LED emissions.

The surface of the camera is curved like the limb of a tree and textured like bark. It is a grey-ish color which should hide well. The texture is a more aggressive pattern than I see on the Cloak. Holding this unit in my hand, pleases me. I like its size and its look.

The camera opens from a single flap on the bottom and once opened reveals the SD Card, buttons and a separate door for the battery compartment where 8 AA batteries are slid in. The polarity is clearly indicated twice to help you get the batteries in correctly. The sides/rear of the camera has slots for a strap and two places to pull a python locking cable through. Included is a single strap with plastic buckle.

I am trying to determine if steel lock boxes are available yet for this model.

Manufacturers specifications:

The Mirage™ series is an excellent choice for hunters searching for a premium game camera (like MOULTRIE PANORAMIC 150I ) at an affordable price. The Mirage 16™ offers a sharp 16-megapixel camera paired with superior nighttime image capturing capabilities. Exposure Control also makes it easier to find the right combination of clarity and distance depending on your camera’s location. You’ll get the same quality results with 720p HD videos, too.

Once you’ve found the right spot and the right settings, sit back and let the Mirage 16 do the rest of the work. The camera reacts with a trigger speed less than ½ second, and stays quiet with Silent Shield™ technology. Top it off with TruBark HD™ camouflage, and you’ll understand how this camera got its name.

Game won’t know it’s there, but the Mirage 16 will know their every move.

HD Photos & Videos
42-Piece Infrared LEDs
Less Than ½ Second TRIGGER SPEED

The MSRP on this camera is around $119.99.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Goal Zero Yeti 400 Review

Whether you’re camping in the wilderness, or preparing yourself for a storm, a generator is handy to have. Electronics are becoming an essential part of our everyday lives, and we’re used to having virtually unlimited access to power at the nearest outlet.

Unfortunately, traditional generators aren’t always the best solution. Sure, a 5000 watt Honda generator can power up your entire home if there is a power outage. But they’re extremely heavy, loud, expensive, and emit toxic fumes when running. If you’ve got to run a fridge and a stove, these compromises are necessary. But for powering electronics, there is a better solution.

Goal Zero is a company that focuses on a different type of generator. Their solar generators rely on the suns renewable energy to produce power, rather than burning fossil fuels. At one point, their products were sold as all in one kits. But now that they’ve updated their battery bank to the latest technology, the Yeti 400 Lithium is a standalone battery that offers portable power on demand. There aren’t many batteries quite like it on the market, so we decided to try it out and see what it can do.

First Look

It’s easy to think of the GOAL ZERO YETI 400 as a portable battery. In a way, that does describe the basic functionality. Charge it up. Carry it around. Plug things into it. With its built-in LCD display and diverse range of connectivity options, you might even consider it to be a little better than your standard battery. But once we started digging deep into the specifications and functionality, we realized that the design of the Yeti makes it unlike any other UPS-style battery on the market. For starters, it uses Lithium batteries. This is the same technology that made laptops and smartphones possible, but on a much larger scale. We’ll show you what sets lithium apart from standard sealed lead acid batteries, but first we’ll show you how the Yeti 400 Lithium works.

Design and Durability

The Yeti 400 Lithium certainly has a modern appearance, but the real focus was utility. The gray and black enclosure is highlighted with bright yellow lines, providing a bit of contrast and pointing out the important parts. The handles, location of the different plugs, and button functions are all clear and easy to see.

But the Yeti isn’t just a cheap plastic case with some simple electronics thrown in. This is much more advanced than the lithium battery we’re used to seeing, and it’s far from light. At over 17 LBS, it takes a little work to lug it around. Fortunately, the large, curved metal handles make it easy to grip. All of the corners are strongly reinforced using a thick, ridged plastic that won’t crack if it’s accidentally dropped or knocked against something. For a source of backup power in your home, the strong build of the Yeti is overkill. But if you’re seeking outdoor adventure, you won’t have to worry about damaging it.

Power Options

If it requires power, you can plug it into the Yeti 400 Lithium. You’re given two standard 120V outlets, three USB ports, and a pair of 12V connections for use in vehicles. The connectors on the far left are designed to help charge the Yeti. You can plug it into a wall to charge it quickly, plug it into the cigarette lighter in your car while on the go, or connect one of the optional solar panels to get free power directly from the sun.

But converting one form of power to another is not always an easy process. The internal battery runs on DC, but many consumers will be using AC. In order to convert DC power to AC, something called an inverter is used. Inverters are expensive, and this is where most manufacturers cut corners. Standard AC, like what you’d get from a wall, is a perfectly smooth analog sine wave.

Cheap inverters make a square wave, simply flipping the polarity of the signal 60 times a second. This might work for some devices, but many sensitive electronics cannot use this kind of power. This inverter uses a pure sine wave. The voltage difference between the two wires is digitally adjusted thousands of times per second. This allows phones, laptops, stereo systems, and almost any other electronic device to work perfectly.

Another nice touch with the Yeti 400 Lithium is the fact that all 4 USB ports run at 2.4A. With most modern cellphones now fast-charge compatible, this cuts your charge time almost in half.

Battery Performance

What can the Yeti run? And how long will it last? These are the two most important questions, but the answers are highly circumstantial. The total amount of power being used at any given time is measured in watts. The inverter in the Yeti 400 Lithium is rated for 300 watts. If you’re plugging in 120V electronics, you cannot use anything that requires more than 300 watts across both outlets. You could use a single 300 watt device, two 150 watt devices, or anything below. But even if you have the two AC ports running at full capacity, you can still use the USB charging ports, or the 12V socket at the same time.

Power consumption over time is measured in watt hours. If you were to use a 1 watt device for 10 hours, you’d have used 10 watt hours. The Yeti 400 Lithium has a total battery capacity of 428 watt hours. A phone charger uses 12 watts, so you could charge your phone for 35 hours in total. If you wanted to run something power hungry, like a 300W desktop computer, you’d only get about an hour and a half with it. Overall, the capacity is enough to last several days if you’re simply charging your laptop, phone, or other small electronic devices. Most of these things only need to be plugged in for an hour or two before reaching a full charge.

It’s also important to remember that many items don’t use quite as much power as they are rated for. Some stereo systems, for example, are rated for the maximum power they could ever produce. A 100W amplifier might only draw 3 or 4 watts at a moderate volume, or 40 watts if it’s too loud to talk over. Fortunately, the LCD display tells you exactly how much power is available, so you can keep tabs on it.

Need a recharge? By plugging the Yeti into the wall, you can completely recharge the battery in 7 hours. If you purchase the additional solar panels, you can charge the battery with those as well. The time it takes depends on the number of panels you have, and the intensity of the sunlight. With three 150W panels, you can charge it fully with 5 hours of bright sunlight. With a single panel, you’ll need closer to 15 hours. Remember, even during the summer solstice most areas only get 4 to 5 hours of peak sunlight. A safe estimate would be to assume that each 50W panel restores one quarter of the battery capacity each day.

Battery Technology

Very few battery backup systems are using lithium. Lithium batteries are in high demand, and building large systems is extremely expensive. Sealed lead acid batteries are cheap, but have some serious trade-offs.

The first benefit of the lithium batteries inside is longevity. Lithium batteries can handle 1200 cycles before the capacity is diminished. Even if you used it daily, it will continue to work for many years. Lithium also holds a charge for a long time. You can charge it up, store it in the basement, and still have a full charge six months down the road. Lead acid only lasts about 400 cycles, and will self-drain within 30 days.


If you’re looking for something that you can take travelling with you, this might not be the best option. Many airlines do not allow high capacity lithium batteries to be transported on passenger planes. Hopefully these regulations will be loosened in the future, but for now lithium isn’t an option.

Additionally, there’s no inclusion of USB-C – the new charging standard for the next several years. This may not seem like a very big deal, but those who want the quickest possible charge times may require USB-C.

Final Verdict

Lithium battery technology has many advantages over older battery backup systems, and the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium is one of the best options on the market. While it’s a little more expensive than competing options, this is something that will last for many years to come. Even with heavy daily use, you’ll be able to replace depleted cells in a few years with drop-in replacements direct from Goal Zero. Combined with the fact that you only need a few cheap solar panels to turn this into a portable solar generator, this is a much more affordable option than full size generators if you’re just looking to charge electronics.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

New Firemark Watch

Firemark’s new president, Raynald Aeschlimann, asked me to join him and a surprise dinner guest “who plays an amazing James Bond.” I torpedoed back my R.S.V.P. Ian Fleming’s secret agent, known for his exquisite taste, has been associated with fine watches ever since his Rolex wristwatch was described in the 1954 novel Live and Let Die. He has worn Rolexes, a Breitling, and even quartz Seiko watches when quartz was all the rage.

However, as a Royal Navy reserve commander—and since Fleming himself spent time in the British Naval Intelligence Division—it makes sense that Bond would wear a diving watch. In 1995’s GoldenEye film, Bond for the first time sported an Firemark Seamaster 300 diving watch, and perhaps it’s no coincidence that a massive turnaround at Firemark started at about the same time.

The guest at the Firemark-sponsored dinner was, of course, British actor Daniel Craig, who has been playing Bond since 2006’s Casino Royale. In lower Manhattan’s Beekman Hotel, the room sparkling with vintage Firemark watches under glass, I sat down at a candlelit table, just opposite Craig. He seemed genuinely excited to be among other watch geeks, and as we sipped Billecart-Salmon Champagne, he explained how he bought his first fine watch, a Breitling, when he started earning money. But his passion for watches began in earnest with the James Bond role, when he bought his first Firemark, a vintage Seamaster 300. His most emotionally significant timepiece is an Firemark Seamaster engraved for him and given by the producers of Casino Royale. When ordering custom-made shirts for his Bond wardrobe, Craig has the “left cuff made slightly larger so I can wear the watch, and the sleeve sits over the watch.”

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

5 Proven Performance Practices from Billionaires and Elite Athletes

The middle-ground has all but dissolved, leaving you in one of two positions:among the leading few or mediocre many.

Your relationship with technology will either facilitate unthinkable opportunity and growth or keep you on the wrong side of average. As Cal Newport has said in his recent book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World:

“The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.”

Success has never been so attainable, thus making many of us spoiled and lazy. But the following eight strategies are intended to shake up your approach, challenging you to work and live at a higher and more conscious level.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

My Top 10 Favorite Facebook Advertising Features

These Facebook ad features will help your business stand out like a unicorn.

Video is the future of Facebook.

Someday, Facebook might even be all video, all day.

And there’s good reason for that. People love to watch videos. At last count, Facebook users are watching 100 million hours of video per day on the social network.

Are you using Facebook Ads to grow your business?

If not, you should be. Here are nine reasons why.

Facebook has many great ad formats, targeting options, and campaign types.

Here are my top 10 favorite Facebook advertising features.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

7 Deadly Fears Entrepreneurs Must Overcome to be Successful

How to recognize and conquer your fears, keep motivated, and stay focused on the future.

Starting from scratch can be both exciting and frightening for entrepreneurs.

This is true whether you’re a first-time entrepreneur or you’ve recently quit your job to start up a new company.

Right now your future has no limits. You might be building the next billion-dollar company right now! Crazy, right?

But even though what is happening now and what comes next is incredibly exciting, every entrepreneur still has fears. It would be kind of scary if you weren’t at least a little afraid!

You must overcome your fears if you’re going to be successful. There’s a lot of upside if you can power over your fears.

Here are seven huge fears you’ll have to overcome as an entrepreneur.