5 Reasons Why I Probably Won’t Go Back To The iPhone

Michelle Carvo : January 19, 2016 5:46 am : Blog, Technology

After rocking a Motorola Razr V3m from 2007-late 2008, I was ready to experience my first smartphone. Money in hand with the intention of getting my first phone plan on my own, I headed to Walmart and picked up the iPhone 3G in Black. With a decent screen, camera, and 16GB of storage, it was enough to satisfy me.

The ability to easily look up directions to places? Amazing. Being able to browse the Internet from a small device? Incredible. And taking photos without having to carry around an extra camera? Very useful, especially as a constantly on-the-go college student

My iPhone 3G met and exceeded my smartphone needs so well that I eventually upgraded to the iPhone 3GS in 2010, the iPhone 4S in 2011, the iPhone 5 in 2012, the iPhone 5S in 2014, and the iPhone 6+ in late 2014 (see a pattern here?).

The iPhone Just Worked…Until It Didn’t Meet My Needs

Being a gadget nerd, I tried out various Android devices along the way. From the Galaxy S2 to the Droid Bionic, all Android devices I tried out had their flaws. Whether they overheated, lacked adequate battery life, or just had buggy software, none performed as well as my iPhones.

At one point, I was completely all in with Apple–I had the iPhone 6+ 64GB, iPad Mini 2, and a brand new MacBook Pro 13.3″ with Retina display.

Then I started to notice something: the iPhone wasn’t completely meeting my growing needs as a full-time project manager, aspiring photographer, and all around multi-tasker.

No External Storage

If there’s one thing I really enjoy, it’s taking pictures. I’m known as the photographer in the family, the one who has thousands of family photos from the past 10-12 years all neatly organized on a hard drive and multiple cloud storage services.

When I go to a concert or sporting event, you can bet on me taking at least 50-100 photos plus videos.

So storage on my phone is super important. I need to have room to store every video or photo I’ve taken in the last year on my phone. Retrieving these when I need them from cloud storage isn’t a good option, whatwith data limits.

My iPhone, even with its 64GB space, wasn’t enough to hold all the videos and photos I take. However, many Android devices did/do have external storage options.

No Removable Battery

From 2013 on, I carried around an external battery pack with my iPhone. It served its purpose, but constantly carrying it around was annoying. Plus, if I was actively using the iPhone, it would take forever to charge my 6+ back to 100%.

Depending on the Android phone, you can easily and cheaply have 2-3 extra batteries fully charged and ready to swap. That was attractive to me since I use my phone a lot.


The iPhone has both a blessing and a curse on its hands with the iOS software being closed. On the one hand, the software being restricted keeps bad apps from making the iPhone unusable. You typically won’t find bloatware or otherwise bad apps in the App Store. Because iOS is very well optimized for the iPhone and there’s no room for bad apps to inefficiently use battery/resources, performance is very good on the iPhone.

However, the bad part of iOS software being closed off is that it keeps out a lot of good apps/services. Things like Tasker, file management apps, Zedge, web development apps (such as FTP file managers) etc. just won’t be available on the iPhone. Want to easily save music/photos to your iPhone by dragging and dropping files? It’s not going to happen. How about saving a .php file and then uploading it to your website from your phone (as my many web developers inevitably need to do at one point or another)? Not on the iPhone.

App Availability

This goes along with the restrictions mentioned above. The Play Store has a lot of apps that you most likely will never see in the iOS App store. Some of these are incredibly useful, such as Glance which allows me to respond to text messages from my Pebble Smartwatch (more on the Pebble below).

An app called Twilight automatically changes the brightness/color of my phone screen after sunset so my eyes aren’t exposed to harmful blue lights that may disrupt the quality of my sleep. Apple is finally introducing a similar feature in its new iOS update due out the Fall of 2016, but I highly doubt it will have the customization options that Twilight does.

The Hola launcher allows me to customize my phone any way I want it. I can have all my important emails, texts, news etc. displayed on my phone screen, which makes it easy to glance, make sure nothing important has come up, and then go about my day.

Launchers, by the way, are things you’ll never see on the iPhone. For some, that won’t matter much. For me, it’s simply something that makes the way I use my phone a lot more enjoyable.

Pebble Compatibility

When I picked up my Pebble Classic in May 2015, I was still rocking an iPhone 6+. The watch, which cost $94, was the only one compatible with both Android and iOS. It worked well enough with my iPhone 6+, allowing me to accept/decline calls, pause/forward/rewind music, see email and text notifications etc.

Soon I found out about all the things that the Pebble Classic could do with Android phones. Things like all of the above, plus replying to text messages, sending text messages, controlling other apps, actionable notifications (quick replies to emails, Skype messages etc.) and a bunch of other things.

It annoyed me. I wanted full functionality with my smartwatch. I did not want to get rid of the Pebble and purchase an Apple Watch, which cost 4x as much and had 1 day of battery life compared with 3-6 for the Pebble.

Switching to Android

In early June 2015 I made a decision that scared me: I switched to Android. After a trip to Verizon and an order on their website, I soon had a Galaxy Tab S 10.5 tablet and a Galaxy Note 4.

My iPad Mini was given to my mom; my niece got my iPhone 6+. I quickly outfitted the new devices with skinomi screen protectors, a bluetooth keyboard case (for the Tab S) and an S View case (for the Note 4). 64GB MicroSD cards were put in each device. 2 external batteries plus a charger were ordered for the Note 4.

It has now been 7 months and I still have the Note 4 and the Tab S, as well as my Pebble smartwatch. In my next blog post, I’ll talk more about the adjustment period.

One thing I’m pretty sure of, though, is that I won’t be going back to the iPhone and iPad.

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Why Putting It Off Til Tomorrow Is A Terrible Idea

Michelle Carvo : May 30, 2015 5:50 am : Blog

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog post. It’s been even longer since I’ve written a blog post on my personal website.

No, I don’t hate writing. I love it and have since I was a teenager.

No, I’m not so insanely busy that I can’t take 10-15 minutes to write a blog post. I’m busy, but I do have SOME free time.

And no, I’m definitely not creatively starved or out of ideas. I get ideas all the time for what to write about.

What I am is a procrastinator. Not just a run of the mill procrastinator, but a major league, MVP procrastinator. I’m confident that if there were a super bowl of procrastinating, I’d win it–or at least come close.

Back in college, I’d wait to write a 10-20 page term paper until the day before. I’d get an A for it because, oddly enough, having a hard deadline to meet actually makes me write better.

When I first started my freelance career and wrote articles for clients, I’d wait til the day before they were due to even start them. The finished product would be very well received, almost as if I had been working on it for days rather than mere hours.

Then I settled into my current career path as a Project Manager. It seemed like an odd choice as someone who procrastinates and never saw herself as a particularly strong leader, but it’s something I’ve done pretty well at. I’m able to take a project from a small idea to something greater. Sometimes I procrastinate and things take a little longer to get done, but for the most part, everyone is happy.

For the last couple months, though, I’ve been focusing on increasing efficiency. I’ve been thinking about how to make the project management process go smoother. I’ve even adapted this “more efficiency = better results” model to my own life beyond work.

What I’ve realized is that, for as good of a Project Manager as I am, I’m an even worse procrastinator. Being one who craves efficiency and results so much, it kills me that I waste so much time doing other things rather than doing important things.

Don’t get me wrong: sometimes you NEED to do those other things. Sometimes you need to kick back with a game of Halo. Sometimes you need to scan your Facebook, or watch a TV show. But when it gets in the way of more important things (such as work or family or cleaning or exercising), you’ve got a problem.

What I’ve found is combatting procrastination requires a few things.

The first is willingness to accept that you procrastinate. You must acknowledge it and when it is happening. When you sit down to watch the latest episode of Silicon Valley rather than getting an important SEO audit done, you’re procrastinating. Sure, you SHOULD take the time out to see how the guys at Pied Piper have messed up this week, but you shouldn’t do it until that audit is done.

The second is having an idea of what you need to get done on a given day. For this, task management is very important. I recently started using 2Do, a terrific task management program for Mac and iOS. I won’t say that I always get every single thing done on my 2Do list for a particular day, but I will say that since I started using 2Do, I get a lot more done. In my case, procrastination absolutely thrives on disorganization–getting rid of that mental clutter by recording exactly what you need to get done makes it that much harder to procrastinate.

Third, and probably most important, is having the willpower to stop yourself when you’re procrastinating. Like the title says, putting it off until tomorrow is a terrible idea unless you have a truly legitimate reason for delaying (such as an emergency, illness, a big family event etc.). This is where awareness of procrastination and awareness of what’s due is key. If I can look at my to-do list and see that I need to get X, Y, Z done, you best believe I need to get those done before I’m permitted to relax. Willpower is a constant push to get those tasks done because their completion is more important to your life than any video game, Facebook status, or TV show.

Having said all this, I still need to follow my advice. Here’s to more blogging and less procrastination as the days, weeks, and months go by.

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The Future Of Wearable Computing

Michelle Carvo : September 19, 2013 3:53 am : Blog, Technology

*Note* This was originally written as an academic paper by me and has been reposted here.

It was earlier this year that Google introduced its Google Glass device, a device that they felt would change wearable computing forever. Beta testers and developers were selected to try out the device, including many bloggers and media members. Unfortunately, the reaction to Google’s newest device was not as positive as they would have hoped. Some media mocked Google Glass, others criticized it as being a “distraction,” and the device was even mocked in a popular Saturday Night Live skit where the lead character struggled with Glass’ responsiveness to gestures and speech. With Glass’ problems, it might be easy to assume that the future of wearable computing is quite bleak; however, that’s not the case as I’ll show in this paper.

Although I’ll be taking a look at several upcoming devices, first let’s take a closer look at Google Glass and Google’s goal in releasing it to developers this year and the general public in 2014. Google Glass is a wearable computer attached to a pair of glasses. The user wears these glasses and is able to access the Internet, take photos, and film short snippets, among many other things. (1) Additional features beyond those cited by Google may be added to the device as developers determine what the device is and is not capable of. Google’s goal in releasing Glass is to provide consumers with a “seamless and empowering” experience where they can access features anywhere. Glass is constantly on them, even when a cell phone isn’t, which means it can come in handy for those times when taking a picture is unexpectedly desired, or when there’s a question on your mind that you don’t want to wait until you’re on your phone or a computer to answer.

As Google’s website shows, Glass recognizes several different phrases/gestures. For instance, if you are looking at something and want to take a picture of it, you simply say “take a picture,” or if you want to record something you are watching, you would simply say “record.” Glass even supports live streaming. This would obviously come in handy for family members who are far away but want to see your child’s recital, or executives who want to be at a meeting without actually physically being there. For those who need directions, Glass can show you directions right through your glasses. Messages can be sent to friends through voice command, while questions can be asked and answered from anywhere through Google’s search engine. Translations are also given through the device, which could prove handy when traveling to a country whose language you do not speak.

The concept of Google Glass itself is very cool; however in practice, there’s a lot of doubts at this point as to just how useful, safe and secure Glass really is. I sort of liken it to when Android smartphones first came on the market. They had a lot of useful features that Apple’s iOS did not have until later iterations, such as notifications. However, the operating system lacked the polish and usability of iOS, there were issues with viruses, bloatware and security, which is why it took so long for Android to take over iOS. Now, of course, Android is quite polished and has surpassed iOS in the mobile share. Google Glass may not have many competitors, so it should be on top of the wearable computer market when it is released to consumers next year, but it does have a lot of issues that will need to be worked out before it can truly be used by more than just technology enthusiasts.

First, there are the concerns with the navigation feature on Google Glass. It’s assumed by Google that Glass wearers will use Glass for their navigation needs. That obviously means that Google Glass will be worn while driving. Because Glass displays directions on the glasses you are wearing, this can, at best, serve to distract you while driving. At worst, this can impair your driving and even cause an accident. Even if Glass isn’t used for navigation while driving, it could still prove to be a distraction while driving with its other features, such as the ability to search the web. Just as texting and other mobile phone usage while driving has been viewed as a significant problem in the United States (Michigan has even banned texting while driving), Glass is already causing concern for legislators. In fact, West Virginia legislators who recently banned texting while driving are looking to remove the loophole that would permit Glass to be used while driving (as it’s a hands-free device). It would not be surprising at all for other states to follow suit.

There’s also the concern of Glass being used in situations where recording devices are not normally permitted, sort of like a “spy cam.” Casinos such as the Caesars casino in Las Vegas have banned the usage of Google Glass while attending shows or gambling at the casino. Bars, such as the 5 Point Café in Seattle, have done the same. It’s highly likely that as Google Glass increases in popularity, other places will also ban its usage, such as concert venues, courtrooms and virtually any other place that bans the usage of recording devices.

However, perhaps of even greater concern than usage at a casino, is the potential usage of Google Glass to spy. A Google shareholder even called Glass a “voyeur’s dream come true.” Indeed, there’s a lot of concern that Google Glass may be used to record individuals or take pictures without their consent. Imagine an individual who is wearing Glass and comes into the locker room of your gym. Those in the locker room are obviously in various states of undress, with some who have no clothes on at all. While someone who came into the locker room holding a smartphone and recording what they see would be obvious, someone who is wearing Glass and recording would not. Another example of this voyeurism would be a child predator who is watching children play at a school or a playground. The sight of them taking pictures with a camera or smartphone would be obvious; however, if they’re doing so with Google Glass, it would be much harder to detect and put a stop to. It’s this discreetness that makes Google Glass both convenient and a huge potential problem that will need to be solved as Glass increases in usage.

One other cause for concern is Google’s open platform and the ability for developers to design apps for Glass that may do less than ethical things. While Glass normally requires the user to say “take a picture,” one developer came up with an app that takes a picture when the Glass wearer merely blinks. This obviously makes Glass even more discreet to use in cases where spying or taking pictures/video without consent is the goal. Others have expressed concern that Glass developers will be able to create porn apps that allow wearers to view this form of media from anywhere, in the presence of anyone. Still others have pointed out that Glass developers could create facial recognition software. Fortunately, Google has reassured the public that neither porn nor facial recognition apps will be allowed in the market.

Lastly, there’s the aspect of privacy in terms of data. Google Glass syncs up with Google’s search engine as well as Google’s email and other offerings. Google has been accused of giving data without the user’s consent to the government and, in effect, aiding the government in spying on private citizens’ email, search engine requests etc. The same issues could apply with Glass, as well as the additional issues of Glass’ ability to record what the wearer is seeing. For instance, Google could authorize the government to remotely turn on Glass’ video recording capability without the wearer’s knowledge, which would then allow the government to see what the wearer is doing. Google hasn’t really said either way if this concern is even a real possibility; however, people tend to assume the worst when it comes to Google and private data, so it’s a huge concern with Google Glass at this point.

While Glass obviously has its positives and negatives, it’s still capable of  being a significant part of the future of wearable computing. Glass shows us all of the possibilities that exist with this type of computing, as well as the issues that must be fixed before it can become as integrated into society as the desktop/laptop computer, the tablet or the smartphone. However, Glass is not the only wearable computer set to hit the general public soon.

Google’s biggest rival is arguably Apple, as Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android have been competing for years. When it comes to wearable computing, this could be another area in which Apple and Google compete with one another. While Google has their Glass, Apple has been rumored to be working on an iWatch for a while now. With the iPhone 5S recently being announced, some are even predicting that the iPhone 5S will usher in Apple’s era of wearable computers. Gigaom writer Chris Brandick feels that Apple’s iPhone 5S A7 chip could be a sign that an iWatch is on the way.

The A7 chip is capable of feeding data into apps, running background applications and conserving battery life. It functions separately from the iPhone 5S’ primary A7 processor as it senses when you’re walking, running, or driving. One example of the chip’s use here is its use in Nike’s upcoming Nike+ move app, where the chip tracks motion. In theory, the chip could be used in an iWatch. The iWatch could track the number of steps you take, the calories you burn. It could sync up with your iPhone so that you can check your email from your watch, get directions to a place, search the web, do everything that you could do on the iPhone, but without having to carry it. Much like Google’s Glass, except without wearing a pair of glasses that look sort of out of place. Although Apple has not announced the iWatch yet, it is expected to happen within the next year or two, possibly next year right around the same time as Google Glass hits shelves.

It’s worth noting that there is an a wristband attachment offered for the iPod Nano 6th generation player that effectively converts the Nano to a wearable computer. However, it is not as full featured as the iWatch will likely be.

Another example of a potential revolutionary wearable computer is the Sony SmartWatch. The SmartWatch is more like the iWatch than Google Glass as it syncs up with a compatible Android device, such as a smartphone or a tablet. The SmartWatch works via Bluetooth and is capable of relaying notifications from your phone. For instance, if you get a new email, the SmartWatch will display the notification. Or if you have an incoming call, the SmartWatch will alert you to it in real time. This especially comes in handy for those times where you have silenced your phone, or have placed it at the bottom of a bag and are unable to hear the notification. The SmartWatch has a three-level microdisplay, which means it supports tap and swipe actions, as well as a long press to open the options menu. Apps can be downloaded from the Google Play store for the SmartWatch, which extends its usability.

Although the SmartWatch isn’t going to replace a smartphone like Google Glass might down the line, it is a pretty compelling accessory for Android devices. With a $99 pricetag—which is likely less than what Glass will cost when it comes out in 2014—it’s also affordable for the average smartphone user. The device has apparently sold well enough, as Sony is soon coming out with a SmartWatch 2 that promises to have new features and a more refined look.

With devices like Google Glass, the possible iWatch, and the Sony SmartWatch 2 on the way, the future of wearable computing looks bright. Although it’s still unknown whether or not wearable computing will catch on as smartphones and tablets have, it’s pretty obvious the potential uses for this technology, as I’ve pointed out here. This is technology that could make capturing every moment, losing weight and keeping track of notifications easier. It is technology that could even be used in military or other security applications. It should be interesting to see where wearable computing goes in the next 5 or 10 years. It is certainly technology that is ripe for development and a multitude of applications.


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Summer 2013: One Of The Best

Michelle Carvo : August 30, 2013 4:54 am : Blog

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged here. About 17 months to be exact. I’m hoping to blog a little more often now.

I’m still working for Buzz Internet Marketing Group as a Project Manager. I definitely love what I do and have experienced a lot of career growth while working for Buzz. I’ve learned a ton about web development, marketing, WordPress and project management. Very valuable experience and getting to telecommute (work from a home office) has been awesome.

Despite a busy work schedule, I’ve made time to have a bit of fun over the past 3-4 months. Really, since April, the time has just flown by. With all of the things I’ve gotten to do and all of the fun I’ve had, this has definitely been one of the best summers in memory.

What I’ve Been Up To

It all started in April with a trip to Chicago. My niece and I–both being big fans of the the TV show the Vampire Diaries–decided to go there for a convention for the show so that my niece could meet her idol, Ian Somerhalder. It was a blast. We enjoyed staying at the Westin O’Hare, swimming, sight-seeing in downtown Chicago, walking along the Navy Pier and navigating through the busy Chicago traffic (NOT!). All in all, an excellent trip.

The view of Chicago from the Navy Pier

The view of Chicago from the Navy Pier


The convention is apparently a yearly thing, and we plan to attend next year’s. Here’s hoping more stars are added to it and that we have a little more time to see the city.

Then came May. May is generally a busy month for us anyway with lots of birthdays in the family; however, it was even busier this year with a good friend’s wedding in Texas. We traveled down to Austin, TX and enjoyed 5 days of warm weather, wedding festivities and getting to see some dear friends who now live in TX. The most interesting part of the trip was actually the return home. We flew into Flint in the middle of a severe storm.

Yes, that flash of light is lightning.

Yes, that flash of light is lightning.

Luckily, we made it home just fine. And luckily, the flight into Texas was much nicer.

Ideal flight conditions

Ideal flight conditions

We also were able to do a little bit of sight-seeing in downtown Austin. Austin’s definitely one of those cities I really like…not just for its tech-friendly atmosphere but for all of the activities there.


One of many stars in Texas

One of many stars in Texas

Another thing that I did this summer and greatly enjoyed was spending time up in northern Michigan. We’re lucky enough to have a place that is a mere 5-10 minutes away from Lake Huron. Full of beautiful views, like this one:

Beautiful day on July 4th

Beautiful day on July 4th

I also was able to do some golfing up north.


Hole #2 at Greenbush golf course.

Hole #2 at Greenbush golf course.

I also enjoyed spending some time in the Ann Arbor-area and saw the U of M campus. Although I’m a passionate Spartans fan, I gotta admit that U of M has a very nice campus and a vibrant area around Campus. It was lots of fun walking around on campus.

Finally, there were trips to Cedar Point and the west side of Michigan. Lots of fun as always.

Summer 2013 was, simply put, an excellent summer. That said, as much as I enjoyed this summer, I am looking forward to the fall and all of the holidays coming up.

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Are Video Games the Future of Learning?

Michelle Carvo : March 27, 2012 6:23 am : Blog

When looking at video games from 20, 10, even 5 years ago, it’s easy to see how far things have evolved. Games that were once considered “cutting” edge at the time (here’s looking at you, Goldeneye 007) now pale in comparison to current games (have you seen the new Call of Duty game? The graphics are insane!). I could easily write a long winded post about the various improvements in graphic and gameplay of video games today versus those released 20-30 years ago.

Instead, I’d like to focus on the video games today that actually help people to learn new, useful skills.

Have you ever thought about hiring a personal trainer because you’re unsure of how to begin working out? Games like Wii Fit, Gold’s Gym, EA Active and a slew of other fitness-minded games make the process of getting back into shape that much easier. Using the Wii’s motion sensor, the games detect your movements and give feedback as far as how you’re doing with a particular exercise. Granted, these games are no substitute for authentic gym equipment, but for basic cardio and instruction, they work very well.

How about picking up a few new dance moves? Dance class isn’t necessary with games like Just Dance, Dance Dance Revolution and Dance Central. Users of these games can learn dance moves while dancing to lots of cool music. Games like Dance Central even use the Xbox’s Kinect to record users as they dance and then replay a “mix” of their dance moves on screen. These games won’t replace dances which require a partner (as of yet, there’s no Just Dance: Swing edition) but for learning new moves, they work well.

What about the process of learning a new musical instrument? Games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero showed the potential of video games as a means of playing and even learning music. Unfortunately, these games didn’t teach how to play actual instruments, but they did aid many users in learning the rhythm of songs (not to mention singing: I used to hate it, but thanks to some of my favorite songs on Rock Band, I quite like it now).

Gamers can now pick up Rocksmith, a game which teaches users how to play songs on an actual electric guitar. The game is truly groundbreaking as it includes a single USB to 1/4 instrument cable that allows the notes played through the guitar to reach the system (currently Xbox 360 and PS3) and then be interpreted by the game. What’s even better is how scary accurate the game is–notes are interpreted correctly over 99% of the time. I’ve spent the last few months playing the game, and as a guitarist I have to admit it’s very well put together. While the game doesn’t teach enough theory to make it the best method of learning guitar, it does make playing the instrument a lot more fun for beginners, and that’s a very important thing.

So back to the question: are video games the future of learning? I’d be inclined to say that they are……but (and it’s a big but) they’re not without their flaws. Dance Central won’t make you an amazing dancer, but it provides you with an introduction to dancing. Same with Rocksmith–you’re not going to become Jimmy Page or Jimi Hendrix or the Edge just after learning a few songs on the game. And you’re certainly not going to become a world class athlete after doing some cardio training on Gold’s Gym (I wish!).

See, what these games all do is encourage newcomers to the particular subject to start actually learning how to do it. They encourage people to stop saying “I really want to learn how to do x, but I just don’t know where to begin” and instead start doing. What the person does from that point on is their decision–either they can continue to play guitar for fun on Rocksmith, or they can take things a step further by learning scales, hiring a teacher and even (gasp) playing in a band.

Some will say that these games encourage bad technique. That may be so, but, c’mon, what beginning guitarist has ever had good technique right from the start? It takes time to really learn the instrument and become good at it–and that definitely includes technique.

What I can say is that, personally, if I had Rocksmith several years ago when I first picked up a guitar, the learning curve would have been much easier to handle. I would have benefited from the introduction that Rocksmith provides to actually playing music. As any one who plays guitar knows, guitar is very boring to play if all you’re ever doing is practicing chords and scales. But once you learn that first verse, that first song, that’s when you’re addicted and can’t put the instrument down. That’s when you really begin to make progress as a guitarist.

The bottom line is this: instructional video games can provide an excellent introduction to the subject, but by no means do they replace the instruction of a good teacher or the hard work and dedication that it takes to become good at something.

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