Marissa Mayer is just the kind of superhero Yahoo needs.

On Monday the tech industry was hit with a bit of a bombshell when it was announced that Marissa Mayer would be abandoning her position as “VP of location and local services” at Google and moving on to start a new career as president and CEO of Yahoo. This seemed like a controversial decision to most given the current state of the company. At the moment Yahoo maintains an almost invisible presence on the web and have somehow managed to burn through three CEO’s in a year! None of which have been able to effectively motivate their engineers, undo damage, restore faith or come up with innovative ways to leverage their sprawling product portfolio. Marissa brings to the table the ability to address all of these issues. Her background in engineering is something that will no doubt get a lot of the engineers at Yahoo excited. As Google employee #20 Marissa was the company’s first female engineer and held key roles in high profile products such as Google Search, Gmail and Google Maps, not to mention a string of others. She has even been credited with the minimalistic design implementation of the now famous Google Search page. She’s also a whiz when it comes to interviews. Her infinitely likeable personality lead Marissa to become somewhat of a revered figurehead at Google, some might even say she was the “face” of the company back in the day. Her poise, charm and grace made her one of the more memorable interviewees at most of the high profile tech events. This should serve her well as she attempts to rebuild the relationship between the general public and the once iconic internet brand who has since fallen from grace. Ironically one of her more memorable recent interviews took place in 2010 at LeWebParis. During a fireside chat Techcrunch’s Michael Arrington was quoted as saying:

“Do you mind if we do some what-ifs, just for fun? Like, if you ran Yahoo, for example, what would you do?”

“Just theoretically. Would you cut back? Lay everyone off, like they’re doing? Would you try to expand in a certain area? I’m just curious.”

To which Marissa responded: “I think if I were Yahoo—I think, one, it’s a difficult job. But I do think Carol’s done a lot of smart things. The partnership on search was smart in many ways. We would’ve liked the partnership to have been with us. But that was smart. I also think that looking at other really interesting brands that are getting a lot of traction on the internet—those are smart acquisitions for them to make to really help broaden out their base, broaden out their platform and ultimately stay relevant.”

One can’t help but think that even back then Marissa had given some serious thought into what could be done to get Yahoo back on track…

Monday’s announcement came as a surprise to a lot of people in the tech industry but it was also notable for another reason. As it turns out, not only is Marissa Mayer the new president and CEO of Yahoo, she is also an expecting mother. She may even be the 1st EVER pregnant CEO of a publicly traded Fortune 500 company. As you can imagine the press is having a field day with this. Feminist movements around the country initially praised Marissa for her ability to shatter the “glass ceiling” and for being a role model to women everywhere that dream of “having it all”. However it seems as though some of them are now disappointed to hear that Marissa will not be taking her full maternity leave. Instead she has chosen to take a week or two off then work straight through. Although I think it’s absolutely her decision to make and not something that really needs to be discussed in the public arena, I still think it is “newsworthy”. It’s worth mentioning because it paints a picture of a forward thinking company that understands the dynamic of today’s modern career woman. Hiring a CEO that you know will be taking maternity leave almost immediately after you hire them is a nice show of faith. Proving that there are companies out there that are willing to help employees shatter the glass ceiling. There has been some speculation as to whether or not Marissa herself came up against that glass ceiling at Google and maybe the reason Yahoo was such an attractive option. On the surface it definitely seemed as though her career at Google had plateaued. It was looking very unlikely that she would be cracking the inner circle of the upper echelon. This might lead people to believe that her decision to leave Google was purely monetary, but at 37 years old and with a net worth of over 300 million dollars, she really doesn’t have to work another day in her life. This suggests to me that she craves a challenge. A challenge is exactly what she is going to get. With the exception of RIM, I can’t think of big tech company that faces more challenges than Yahoo. Over the years they have become somewhat schizophrenic. Bouncing back and forth between being a “web services company” and a “content company”. As it sits right now it is almost impossible to define exactly what kind of company Yahoo is. My guess is that Marissa has a clear vision of what exactly Yahoo should be doing to remain relevant and will quickly put together a support team to start moving the company in the right direction. Given the fact that Marissa’s background is in products and services, I would wager a guess that Yahoo will slowly move away from being a “content” company and focus their attention to “web services”. Time will tell I guess…One thing is for sure. Yahoo just became interesting again.

I have to hand it to her, with a new baby on the way and one of the biggest challenges of her career ahead it seems as though she will need to summon superhero-like powers in order to achieve the impossible. I believe that if anybody can help turn Yahoo into a hot property again it’s +Marissa Mayer. She’s talented, respected and has a proven track record. Her name adds instant credibility and is just what Yahoo needs to help change the public’s perception of the company.

Kudos to +Marissa Mayer for taking on such a monumental challenge. I look forward to the possibility of once again being excited about Yahoo.


My thoughts on the new MacBook Pro

By now most of you already know that Apple has been having a pretty big week. They recently unveiled their newest revolutionary product, the highly anticipated MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Although clearly a triumph of technological evolution, it has sparked a bit of debate amongst consumers and technology enthusiasts. Apple in its attempt to push the limits of consumer technology is being criticized for its latest laptop design. Recently, in a well written article on, Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit (a team responsible for tear-downs of new products and DIY repair guides) brought to light some of the key issues that consumers may have with the MacBook Pro’s new form factor. In the article Kyle states “This is, to date, the least-repairable laptop we’ve taken apart,”. iFixit‘s complicated tear-down resulted in the MacBook Pro only managing to merit a 1 on a 10-point repair scale and has since been deemed impossible to fix or upgrade. As you can imagine this news has left the geek community with a bad taste in their mouth and given the Apple haters one more thing to squawk about. Geeks are notorious tinkers. The idea of not being able to open up a machine and make necessary upgrades or modifications doesn’t sit well with the majority of them. I must say that as a person who used to repair and sell used laptops and PC’s this is somewhat of a concern for me as well. Although I consider myself more of a technology enthusiast than a hard-core geek, I still can’t help but feel a little uneasy about the direction in which personal computing is headed.

At the moment we are witnessing what looks to be the “iPhoneification” of all Apple devices, which of course means proprietary screws, non-removable parts and expensive repair bills. While on the surface it looks as though Apple is out to screw its customers by not giving them a choice, I would argue that Apple has already offered consumers choice and what we are seeing is the direct result of that decision. Apple gave consumers the choice of a MacBook and a MacBook Air at the same price point and the consumer chose the MacBook Air by a wide enough margin that the MacBook was dropped. The consumer spoke and Apple listened. So now the pro user is being offered that same choice. Speaking not as an Apple fanboy but rather as a person who just appreciates cutting edge technology, I have to say the newest Macbook Pro along with the MacBook Air are easily two of the most incredible laptops on the market and I can understand why consumers are infatuated with them.

Apple didn’t become the number one PC maker in the world by simply screwing over their customers. They have a done a lot of things right, now that’s not to say there aren’t conversations to be had about the way they do their business. Like for instance the fact that these newest devices seem to be getting more disposable by the second. Non-upgradable devices tend to have shorter life cycles and are quicker to end up in landfills. Costly full screen repairs on the new Retina MacBook are most likely going to be more difficult and the parts harder to recycle, this will no doubt have an effect on Apple’s carbon footprint. To be fair, environmental impact is an issue that all PC manufacturers struggle with and is also something that they ALL need to improve on. I think it would be unfair to single out Apple on this one, although I’m sure the argument could be made that Apple, as the industry leader, has more of a responsibilty to do more to reduce their carbon footprint, but that’s whole other discussion…

Perhaps the area in which Apple receives the most criticism is their pricing structure. Apple haters love to point out the fact that their latest offerings always come with an outrageous price tag attached, this is often referred to as an “Apple Tax”. Well, the newest MacBook certainly delivers on that one. It comes in two flavours: $2,229.00 for the 15-inch 2.3 GHz and $2,829.00 for the 15-inch 2.6 GHz. These prices don’t even account for the optional memory upgrades or the Apple Care Warranty service. Which, as the article points out, becomes pretty much a necessity when you’re dealing with devices that difficult to repair. At upwards of $3000.00 it’s clear that this laptop is not aimed at the average consumer. With a screen resolution of 2880-by-1800 the MacBook Pro now has 3 million more pixels than an HDTV and is already an incredible piece of hardware. Combine that with it’s ample horse power and ultra slim form factor and you have, in my opinion, the most impressive laptop this world has ever seen. That doesn’t mean however that everyone should be rushing out to get one. I think that this particular purchase will require users to seriously examine their computer usage and consider for a moment what kind of future do they want to live in. Are they content living with customizable, slightly thicker and heavier machines? Or do they share Apple’s utopian dream of a world filled with elegant, paper-thin devices that just work. Consumers need to be reminded of the fact that we vote with our dollars. Apple is after all, in the business of making money. If nobody buys these things they will be forced to make some changes. Unfortunately this might be a bit of moot point, Apple seems to have seen the future, and the future is Retina. Apple is ushering in a new era of personal computing and the evolution happening incredibly fast. Gone are the good old days of Apple when tinkerers like Steve Wozniak put their heart and soul into making computers for the hard core geeks. Apple has essentially become the BMW of the PC world. They make high quality premium products that are packed with technology, beautiful to look at and expensive to repair. And they seem quite content maintaining that image. Luckily for the geeks that don’t share Apple’s vision there is still plenty of good competition in the PC market. Manufactures are tripping all over themselves trying to compete with Apple and the competition is really heating up.

To sum it all up I have to say it’s quite clear that new MacBook Pro isn’t for everyone, but it is definitely where the future of personal computing is headed. The only leverage you have against companies like Apple is your wallet, so spend wisely! That being said, those users who are willing to spend the money on the new MacBook Pro will be getting an exceptional machine. I think it’s safe to say that despite the hefty price tag and the fact that this machine is clearly aimed at the professional that tech enthusiasts, journalists and geeks everywhere will be selling their kidneys, family members and whatever else they can to get their hands on one.

Photo Voyages of Trey Ratliff: iOS App Review

If you’re a photo-geek like myself or just spend a lot of time on Google+ (like myself ) Trey Ratcliff is pretty much a household name. But for those who don’t already know, Trey is a world class photographer that specializes in HDR photography. Trey’s photography is focused on travel, featuring locations in the United States, Japan, France, Argentina, China, Russia, Iceland New Zealand. Not only is he an incredible photographer, he is also a blogger, author and successful entrepreneur. His “100Camerasin1” app has had over 1 million downloads and is available for both iOS and Android. 

In his latest app “Photo Voyages of Trey Ratcliff” he takes us around the world with his awe-inspiring images. Thanks to the sweet slideshow feature Trey’s photos come to life before your eyes. Each photo is displayed in stunning high definition and is accompanied by a description giving you some insight into Trey’s motivation for that particular shot. The app comes with 30 HD photos to get you started and also gives you 3 in-app purchase options. The “FIRST CLASS-12 Month Voyage” option gives you 1 new image per day plus 500 BONUS IMAGES and it costs $9.99. The “BUSINESS CLASS 6 Month Voyage” gets you 1 new image per day plus 200 BONUS IMAGES  and that one costs $5.99. And finally, there is an “ECONOMY CLASS 3 Month Voyage” in which you get 1 new image per day plus 50 BONUS IMAGES. What’s great about this app is that it is optimized to give you the highest resolution possible on whatever device you happen to be viewing it on. It even supports the retina display on the new iPad. In my opinion, the app looks and feels terrific and is well worth the .99 cents. If you’re looking for a way to show off your new iPad or are just interested in sharing the magic of photography with someone, THIS is the app to do it!

Thanks again +Trey Ratcliff and the fine folks at +Stuck In Customs for the advanced screening 😉

There goes the blogosphere!

Somebody left the door to the Internet open and guess who snuck in…THIS GUY!

I’m going to apologize in advance, for this is my first official attempt at maintaining a regular blog. Like many other first time bloggers I’ve had to get over the fact that there will be many people out there who are completely uninterested in what I have to say. I respect that. I realize that not everyone is as obsessed with technology as I am, but I also know that there are plenty of folks out there that are, and that’s who this blog is for. If you’re a fan of the Internet, computers, video games, digital photography, cyber culture or just passionate about technology in general, it might be worth stopping by once in a while. For the record, I am acutely aware of the fact that the Blogosphere is both noisy and overcrowded, but that’s not going to stop me from throwing my hat into the ring. It is my opinion that as we head towards a future where we put more and more of our lives online it becomes increasingly important that we take control of our “personal brands” and that we have a voice on the Internet. A personal blog is a great way to do that, so that’s what I’ll do. Writing doesn’t come naturally to me so please bare with me…think of this blog as a Beta release…things should get better in time. That being said, I promise to do my best to bring you some cool personal and/or tech related articles. I hope that by sharing some of my experiences I can add some value to the Internet and maybe even your lives. Technology is my true my passion and I hope that translates into some decent posts but if it doesn’t please feel free to leave a comment  lol. I appreciate any feedback you might have (trolls…be gentle)! Also feel free to add me to your “Technology” circles on Google+ (its pretty much my second home). Thanks so much for stopping by, I look forward to connecting/sharing with all of you 😉

…And on that note I’ll leave you with this little Easter egg…