You see the names pop up all the time on the site, but what really makes the PhoneDog crew tick when they're not hard at work writing about phones? Welcome to Inside the Dog Pound, where we profile the members of the PhoneDog editorial team.
Aaron Baker, Editor-in-Chief
How did you get started?
I've worked in wireless for just over nine years, beginning at Circuit City in 2003. I started as a Technology Product Specialist focused on computers, but quickly moved to wireless before Verizon opened up corporate kiosks within the store. From there, I had retail positions at SunCom, followed by a Verizon indirect retailer. From there, I hopscotched between an AT&T indirect retailer back to Verizon on the business side. I spent a week at Alltel before accepting an Indirect Account Executive position at Helio. After my departure there, I took a position with Sprint, followed by a national retail role at T-Mobile, and then over to PhoneDog. Admittedly, I'm probably radioactive after working with as many phones as I have over the years.
What does your job entail?
If I were to give you a full list, it would take a while, but you'd be surprised at how much of it has nothing to do with working with actual devices, or the content you see on the site on a daily basis. Shooting video and being on camera in any capacity is by far my favorite aspect of what I do, but there's a great deal of fun in the "behind the scenes" stuff: the constant meetings, travel, relationship building, conference calls, traffic forecasting, and business development.
What's the one part of your job that people don't seem to understand?
One part? Ha, more like the whole thing! I always laugh when people say "so you just play with phones all day?" That sounds like the best job in the world (even better than what I do, which is hard to match!), and while I love what I do, working with actual devices is about 35 percent of the total equation. Working in media is incredibly rewarding - and if you're a fan of working in a fast-paced industry, wild and fun - but it's a lot of work and the always-on lifestyle can get tiring if you don't know how to manage it.
Picking one thing…hmm...minus some rare exceptions, most content that you see on the site is planned anywhere from three days to as long as four weeks in advance, depending on the time of the year. In the busy holiday season, it's not uncommon for me to have videos/articles scheduled over four weeks out. Any time you see a video on the site at a particular time/day, it's planned.
What's the one thing that still shocks you about the wireless industry?
While passion towards something is always a good thing, the level to which people argue over mobile OSes today is absolutely absurd. There are things I love about Android, iOS, Windows Phone, webOS, and BlackBerry. They all offer some great features and have some downfalls. The wild fanboy wars aren't needed.
Taking it off the beaten path a bit, it blows my mind that in 2012, I can't get into my car and use my wireless device without my hands. It's a giant pet peeve of mine. I'll spare the speech, but I should be able to get in my car and say "car, analyze traffic patterns from exit 42 to 48, and it should be able to work with my phone to obtain the data.
Favorite hobby (outside of mobile tech, of course)?
Aviation. I'm a big fan of airplanes, though my hobby generally doesn't extend outside of commercial aircraft. I'm known to listen to air traffic control on a regular basis, monitor flight websites (FlightAware and NYCAviation rank as my favorites right now), and point out random planes by model in the sky as they're on final approach (DON'T try this at home). If I ever pick you up from the airport, expect me to ask you which runway you landed on.
If I had to narrow it down to a particular genre, I'd say seafood. There's really no seafood I'll refuse, especially when it's fresh. Seriously, fresh seafood makes my heart happy.
Mobile phone you're currently using?
I'm using the Samsung Galaxy S III on AT&T. I'm currently using the garnet red one and am very happy with it (it's exactly how I wanted the red to look), though I've had my SIM card in a white and blue one at some point as well. I've used it for just over eight weeks, and am still very pleased. It offers a near-perfect balance of features and performance for me.
Favorite mobile phone of all time?
This might be the hardest question on here! My initial response was to say the Motorola RAZR, as I remember when it launched in 2004 on Cingular, but honestly, I have the most fond memories of the LG-VX6000. It was a great phone, and I remember my excitement to have a color screen after having a Motorola V120e, Nokia 2285, and Nokia 918 with a custom green faceplate. Remember when faceplates were the must-have accessory?
(I also LOVED the Motorola V710. One of my all-time favorites.)
Why yes, yes I do still use a landline. And I LOVE IT.
Other gadgets you use regularly?
In the office, I use a MacBook Pro that's connected to a 23-inch LG monitor along with an Apple Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. I also use a landline in the office and LOVE IT. Strange being that I work in wireless and all, but it makes conference calls a million times easier. (Surprisingly, I still remember all the button shortcuts - yeah!)
I spend 70+ hours per week connected to multiple devices, so in my down time, I'm surprisingly light on the technology. I'm not a huge tablet fan (I can't justify one between my light laptop and my smartphone), and I much prefer physical books as opposed to an eBook reader. Give me a laptop and my phone, and I'm pretty content.
Things people may not know:
- I'm left-handed.
- Though I have blue eyes, part of my right eye is brown.
- I have a strange (most people say creepy) number memory.
- I flew 106,000 miles last year, and by my count was in New York 12 times for various meetings and events.
- Remember Helio? I was their Indirect Account Executive for the Carolinas region just before the company collapsed. I was responsible for 59 stores, and traveled throughout the Carolinas. North Carolina itself has 100 counties, and I traveled to 92 of them in the role.
- I have worked in nearly every arena of wireless sales; B2C, B2B, National Retail, and Indirect Account Executive roles. I stayed away from the call center gigs.
- I am passionately against text messaging while driving, though I think the solution lies in better in-car technology, not in state/federal laws that are nearly impossible to enforce. One of my goals is to start a non-profit on it.
My job involves making new connections. Even if they're not dogs that like phones.
Favorite place to visit?
I've been incredibly fortunate to travel around the world for work, and I've seen some great things over the years. I'd probably give a slight edge to Italy - the architecture is jaw-dropping, and the history is absolutely fascinating. Seeing the Roman Colosseum in real life was on my bucket list, and I have no words for how beautiful Vatican City is.
A close second would be London. I've been there several times for work, and London's just a cool city. The people are great, the history is incredible, and it's a country you can visit without the concern of language barriers. One day, I'd like to spend more than 72-96 hours there. I was there for 22 hours in May for meetings and an event; needless to say, it wasn't enough time for me.