Cactus to Clouds Hike

I did the Cactus to the Clouds hike in Palm Springs yesterday.  Slept in my car after driving over so I could start in the predawn cool weather at 4am. 8 hours, 8500 vertical feet and 12 miles later I reached the Aerial Tram Station.

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Big Commerce vs Shopify Review

Big Commerce vs Shopify

A frequent question I hear from clients is whether Shopify is better or worse than Big Commerce, so I’ve decided to break down the positives and negatives of each in order to provide clients with an answer.

Design Differences

While you can certainly customize the look of Big Commerce it simply doesn’t hold a candle to Shopify’s design flexibility. Big Commerce is significantly more complex than Shopify which results in a lot of wasted effort, money and time. Shopify has a simple-to-use, but highly customizable feature set that makes it highly attractive for different kinds of users-whether the novice or expert. Additionally, Big Commerce’s price skyrockets if you need a designer whereas the cost remains reasonable with Shopify.

Shipping Differences

Big Commerce is going to be the better company when it comes to shipping, because its reach is much longer than Shopify’s. Big Commerce is based both in and outside of America, so they are well equipped to service markets in the United States as well as around the world. Shopify, on the other hand, does not have the same international shipping network as Big Commerce, so they have a reputation for not being 100% reliable for Europeans and Australians. The bottom line is that wherever you are in the world Big Commerce will consistently be able to handle your shipping needs in an efficient manner.

Simplicity Differences

Both Big Commerce and Shopify have reputations for being strong shopping carts, but Shopify provides a more direct and understandable process throughout the entire user experience. However, this is not to say that Big Commerce is difficult to use, but just that Shopify took the extra step to ensure that users will never become frustrated with the shopping cart venture. The primary issue with Big Commerce is it appears as though it has been designed by a marketing team simply wanting a lot of attention which diminishes the potential simplicity for some features. It is reminiscent of all the flashing signs on the strip in Vegas.

Product Management Differences

The simplicity of Shopify undermines its product management options and that leads to the restriction of consumer choice. However, that may be a positive for some individuals who do not want to be induced into a panic attack due to having to make too many choices. Big Commerce enables users to specify a multitude of preferences throughout the process in a convenient manner. Consumers have all the control they want over product and inventory management and that is why Big Commerce won this category.

Reporting Differences

As previously mentioned, the design interface for Big Commerce has far too many marketing gimmicks, but this seems to have benefited the back-end reporting functionality of the site. It is extraordinarily effective and efficient at its job and the basic user should be able to quickly grasp its nuances. However, Shopify has the basic traits most people will be interested in and only those who live off of metrics and graphs will choose Big Commerce over Shopify. So, the final decision for this category is a draw, because it really depends more on the user’s personal preferences to determine which site is better at reporting.

Aesthetic Differences

While the aesthetics might not matter to the infrequent user, it can make a difference to the daily consumer. Unfortunately, we were not able to come up with a clear winner between Big Commerce and Shopify. When we were in a focused, driven, work kind of mood the directness of Shopify won out, but when we were in more of a controlling, manage-driven mood the application interface of Big Commerce earned our loyalty. So, like the reporting category, this one really just depends on the user and what type of personality they have.

Longevity Differences

Shopify easily wins this category. It was specifically designed as a shopping cart and has been admirably performing for quite some time now. Big Commerce is relatively new and there has been a huge marketing push behind it in order to generate hype, but there have been many claims about Big Commerce that have yet to be substantiated, so Shopify is definitely the safer bet in this case.

Price Differences

Big Commerce and Shopify both offer free trials, but Shopify’s lasts twice as long as Big Commerce’s does, so you can have more time to experiment with it before having to make a decision about whether or not to put your money on it. The prices are basically the same and that will not change in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, there could be some slight changes on the lowest offering until both companies find a more stable price and then base variations off of that anchor amount. There is one other factor that should be brought up is how Shopify has a much faster and cheaper method of getting the online shop from zero to selling (with a custom design integrated into an existing website) and that’s all the more reason why Shopify won this category.

The Final Verdict

Shopify’s proven interface, well-developed processes, and reliability make it the better shop cart, but Big Commerce is still a powerhouse in its own regard and the sky is the limit for this newcomer. We will constantly update our reviews in order to ensure that you are getting the best information around.

Great Media Content

If you have been looking for various types of interesting media content, here are some of my recommendations:

  • Better off Ted on Netflix
  • Chess Tactics for Champions by Susan Polgar
  • Battlestar Galactica on Netflix
  • Hunger Games book series

Do you have any suggestions?

Hunger Games Book Series

I just finished reading the Hunger Games book series and I really enjoyed it!  It’s a very fast read – each book takes around 6-8 hours to go through.  It’s pretty dark for a young adults book series!

Police State

Our politicians are turning the USA into a police state very quickly. I am waiting in a very long government line to get processed for airport security. Osaka Bin Ladens goal with 9/11 was to bankrupt America and so far we are doing everything we possibly can to help him out by wasting trillions of dollars on ridiculous amounts of airport security. It actually would be far cheaper in terms of human hours and money to have no security and a plane crash every year (which would of course never happen). I am really tired of our ever growing government. The Republican strategy of cutting taxes to strangle off government growth is making a lot more sense than it used to to me. It doesn’t really work of course because the government just borrows to pay for even more spending, screwing over future generations.

United Airlines Oversold Flight

Another failure by United Airlines on this trip- they oversold the flight from Mexico City to Houston and are now bumping passengers. Another experience I’ve never had with Virgin America.

US Border Patrol and Customs- Massive Taxpayer Waste

I am not a fan of the massive waste of US tax dollars that is the whole Customs and Border Patrol system.  I think there should be open borders- both ways of course though. Free trading between countries would massively increase global wealth for everyone.

United Airlines Lost My Luggage

I only brought carry-on items for my flight to Mexico City so that I could be sure I kept my luggage with me at all times and it was not lost. Prior to boarding, the gate agent got on the intercom and said everyone needed to bring their wheeled carry-ons up to the front to have them checked because United Airlines had overbooked the flight and wouldn’t have enough room for everyone’s carry-ons.

So then what happens?

I get to Mexico City and my bag with all of my clothes is totally and completely lost. United Airlines somehow has no idea if the bag is in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Mexico City or Mars.

I guess United Airlines was once a good airline, but I’ll avoid flying on it ever again. Virgin has been far better in my experience.

Winning The Easy Way

How can you become more successful? Get in better shape? Do better and make more money at work? Do more interesting activities and accomplish goals you’ve long desired?

The solution is simple: put yourself in a position to win the easy way.

What does that mean?

Each one of us has a limited amount of willpower.  People who are enormously successful do not have some magical amount of willpower, they just put themselves in a position where they could win.  For example, people like me who eat a healthy diet don’t necessarily have special willpower to avoid candy and ice cream and processed junk food.  I like that stuff just as much as everyone else. However, if you make a point never to buy it when you go grocery shopping and you make a point to eat at home, then you don’t have to worry about having the constant temptation of a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the refrigerator.  It’s hardest when you first start, because you think about it.  After about thirty days, you have established a habit for yourself and it becomes easier and easier until eventually it’s automatic and you don’t have any cravings for unhealthy food anymore.

If you apply this same principle to other areas of life, you’ll see how you can be more successful without using much willpower:

  • Disconnect your cable and sell your television. The TV is the biggest time sink in our country. According to Nielsen, the average American watches 151 hours of television per month… that’s a full 5 hours a day!  Want to know why? Television is the easiest possible form of entertainment… you just sit down and switch it on. However, the value you get out of it is very very low. It doesn’t engage your brain, doesn’t help you get in better shape, doesn’t make you better at anything except growing a pot belly.  With an extra 5 hours a day you could make your life immensely better… find some good books, go to comedy shows or theatre, exercise, hike, take up rock climbing, study, spend time with your family, find true love, learn new skills, take cooking classes, or just about anything else you’ve always wanted to do, but “haven’t had the time”.  What’s the easiest solution to stopping the quiet menace to your free time of television? Simply disconnect your television… avoiding watching it if you own one is too hard to do and almost no one is able to do so. Make it easy on yourself by getting rid of it so you don’t have the constant temptation.
  • Throw out your junk food and replace it with healthy food in your house. Then make a point not to go out to eat as much. You will save money and start eating a much healthier diet, because every time you are hungry and go open the fridge you will see a bunch of fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, healthy meats.  You have no choice except to eat healthy.  It’s easy because you have no choice.
  • Prevent cravings for junk food by staying full all the time on healthy food. You won’t crave sugar and other crap as much if you are full from eating other food.  This is one of the big reasons I sit with my jug of blender drink all day each day.  I don’t think about what I’m drinking since I am focused on work, but my blender drink keeps me almost completely full and satisfied so I have no other cravings.  Also since it is extremely healthy, I never have a post lunch crash or feel tired – it keeps me feeling bright and sharp all day and that makes working much more fun.  Nothing is more painful than when you are sleepy and groggy from a post-lunch at FatBurger crash and have to somehow keep your eyes open.  Also eating healthy food throughout the day reduces the likelihood you will be craving a calorie bomb come lunchtime.  Once I started doing this when I worked at Visible, I found I wasn’t hungry at lunch, so I had an extra free 45 minutes… which I used to either take a nap (another really smart way to refresh yourself) or to exercise (either just by walking around Seattle or by climbing the stairs in my office building).
  • Just show up at the gym at a certain time every day. If you make a rule for yourself that you will just simply show up at the gym each day – and you do NOT have to do a workout, then it makes going to the gym much easier.  If you go in and do just one situp, that’s good enough.  I think you will generally find though that once you’ve done one situp, why not do two since you are already there? Or a few bench presses?  Slowly over time you will build up the habit of working out – but first just build the habit of showing up.  That’s the easy way.

Simple hacks for life like this will help you live a healthier, happier, longer life. Try it for 30 days.  The first 30 days are the hardest for each of these things and after that it becomes much easier because it is automatic.  If you don’t own a television, you will get bored and be forced to go do other things you’ve always wanted to do.  If you don’t have any unhealthy food around when you are hungry, you will be forced to eat the fridge full of healthy food.  After you’ve set up simple rules like the above ones for yourself you will find it is much easier and takes much less willpower than you ever thought to be successful.

Also – I’d like to note how easy it is to do UNHEALTHY things if you put yourself in the wrong position.  For example, Supplement Locker sent us a free gift box full of weird crap like “Andro Rage” and other stuff.  Several employees ate this stuff just because it was there – they didn’t really seem to have an interest in buying it themselves, but if it was put in front of them they would eat it.  Or for another example, we buy people ice cream cakes for their birthdays.  Now that we have 12 employees in our office this means we pretty regularly are presented with sugary mountains of ice cream.  I don’t really want to eat that, but if it is right in front of me, I generally have a slice.  Same thing on days we order pizza or other unhealthy food.

The key here to being successful is putting yourself in a position to win each day. Don’t make it hard by having a fridge full of unhealthy food you have to consciously say no too.  Don’t make it hard to go to the gym by thinking you have to do an intense workout if you do go.  Don’t make it hard to recapture your free time by owning a big LCD television with every channel known to mankind.  Make it easy on yourself and set up your situation so you have no choice but to do the right thing.

I also suggest using this same principle if you other challenges in life you want to overcome.  For instance do you want to quit smoking?  That’s a very hard task.  Put yourself in a position to be successful by making it easier: get rid of all your cigarettes, your lighters, avoid other people who smoke, and have other outlets. Other outlets could be chewing nicorette gum, using nicotine patches, having really fun activities to do so you are less likely to think about your desire for a cigarette.  Tell your friends, family, and coworkers so you have people encouraging you and making it easier to build up your motivation.  Or another instance might be that you want to read a new HTML5 book.  Make it easier to pick it up and get started by making a commitment to just read 1 page per day.  You will find that many times after just one page you end up reading several more.  Over time you will get hooked and then do a bunch of pages in a row and before you know it, the book has been read.