McDonald’s Stunning New Greenhouse Gas Strategy Will Completely Change the Future of Fast Food

Today, fast-food giant McDonald’s made a stunning announcement that will change the future of the fast-food industry. According to this announcement, McDonald’s is the first restaurant company to set approved science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thought by scientists to contribute to global climate change.

Says McDonald’s in its announcement:

“Today, McDonald’s announces it will partner with franchisees and suppliers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions related to McDonald’s restaurants and offices by 36% by 2030 from a 2015 base year in a new strategy to address global climate change. Additionally, McDonald’s commits to a 31% reduction in emissions intensity (per metric ton of food and packaging) across its supply chain by 2030 from 2015 levels. This combined target has been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).”

According to the company, this new strategy — a part of its Scale for Good initiative — will prevent 150 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere by 2030. This is the equivalent of taking 32 million passenger cars off the road for an entire year or planting 3.8 billion trees and growing them for 10 years.

McDonald’s says that it will prioritize action in collaboration with thousands of franchisees, suppliers and producers, prioritizing action on the largest segments of its carbon footprint. These segments combined account for approximately 64% of McDonald’s global emissions:

  • Beef production
  • Restaurant energy usage and sourcing
  • Packaging and waste

If McDonald’s goes through with its plan (there’s no reason to think that it won’t), then the company is going to have a tremendously positive impact on the world around us given its huge, global scale. And as we have seen with other McDonald’s initiatives, when the company sets the pace, others follow.

Starbucks Just Announced It’s Going to Finally Do Something That Many People Have Been Begging It To Do For Years

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

There’s a little hemorrhoidal tension when a company led for many years by man of stoutly liberal principles seems to flout one of those liberal principles.

After all, it’s an odd quirk of existence that it’s liberals who seem to want to save the Earth, rather than some conservatives.

Many people might, on finishing their large Starbucks cup of milk with some coffee attached, think they can just toss it in the recycling.

The truth, however, is that these cups are very hard to recycle. Mostly because they’re covered in a thin layer of plastic that keeps your drink warm.

Finally, Starbucks has announced that it’s going to do something about it.

“Today, we are declaring a moon shot for sustainability to work together as an industry to bring a fully recyclable and compostable cup to the market, with a three-year ambition,” the company announced.

Starbucks says it’s committing $10 million “in partnership with Closed Loop Partners and its Center for the Circular Economy to establish a groundbreaking consortium to launch the NextGen Cup Challenge.”

The coffee chain says its dream is to see its cups composted, turned into a napkin or even a chair.

Please imagine the joy of wiping your mouth, turning to your lover as you do and saying: “And to think I’m wiping my mouth with an old Starbucks cup. The Earth is saved. Let’s have babies.”

Can Starbucks get there in three years? 

If it did, it still might just miss a potential run for president from its emotional core, Howard Schultz.

Still, this isn’t the first idea Starbucks has recently tried with respect to environmental protection.

In January, it began to experiment with charging customers for cups.

Which the life-addled feared was merely a way to make a little more money.

Indeed, it’s not as if just making an announcement is going to please everyone.

Please enjoy this quote offered to me by Todd Paglia, Executive Director of pressure group

“Starbucks today agreed to solve its 4 billion disposable cups per year problem, putting it on the right side of history for forests and climate — we think,” he said.

Ah, why’s your cappuccino so dry, Todd?

“This is the third such commitment Starbucks has made, and if they follow through, it will change the impact of its cups and the worldwide cup market,” concluded a marginally optimistic Paglia.

The third commitment? 

Aren’t third marriages really successful?

7 Important Pros and Cons to Consider Before Hiring Freelancers

In today’s ever-changing marketplace, being lean and agile could mean the difference between becoming a booming business or being forced to close your doors. One of the fastest-growing trends enabling companies to become lean is hiring freelancers as opposed to full-time employees. According to CareerBuilder, employers who are seeking short-term, contract workers increased a whopping 47 percent from 2016 to 2017.

Yet, like everything in business and in life, there are pros and cons to hiring freelancers. By taking the time to do your homework, you could save yourself loads of time, money and headaches.

Here are seven pros and cons when it comes to hiring freelancers.


1. The Price

One of the greatest benefits to hiring freelancers is, of course, the price. Not only with salary, but also with other costs such as health insurance, company perks, desk space taken up in the office and more. 

2. Lower Financial Risk

Entrepreneurs only need to hire and pay freelancers when there’s work to be done. Almost all freelancing is done on an hourly or a project-by-project basis, so you’ll never have to worry about digging yourself in a hole financially in terms of payroll during “down times”. From a financial point of view, this makes hiring freelancers less of a risk for entrepreneurs than full-time employees.

3. Freelancing Platforms Make Hiring Freelancers Easier Than Ever

With platforms like, Upwork and Thumbtack on the rise, hiring freelancers has gone from being a painstaking process to a relatively speedy one. By streamlining the process of posting job offers for freelancers, sifting through candidates, selecting the best fit and paying them for their work, these platforms can save an entrepreneur precious time they can funnel back into their business. 

Additionally, much like Yelp does for businesses, these platforms also allow you to see reviews and the job history for freelancers so you’re not taking complete a stab in the dark. Although, in my own experience with hiring freelancers, many of the reviews have been a bit more generous than their work reflected. Nonetheless, it helps to be able to differentiate a scrub from an all star.


Hiring a freelancer isn’t all butterflies and roses though. While it’s easy to see the positive benefits of hiring contract workers, there are many cons that exist.

1. Lack of Supervision

Given most freelancing is done remotely, there’s truly no way to know whether or not 2 of those 10 hours your freelancer billed were spent working hard or scrolling through Instagram and watching YouTube videos. This isn’t to say all, or even most, freelancers do this, but without supervision, immediate motivation often takes a backseat to leisure.

2. Unpredictable Quality of Work

Because one of the main advantages to hiring freelancers is the speed, an extensive, thorough interview process to vet freelancers doesn’t tend to take place for entrepreneurs. As a result, a freelancer’s resume and portfolio are sometimes breezed through by whoever is in charge of hiring and onboarding them relative to the immense amount of time dedicated to ensuring a potential full-time hire is a good fit or not. 

3. Lower Investment in the Company

Freelancers have bills to pay just like you do, so thinking you’re their only client would be similar to thinking your waitress is only working her shift tonight to serve your table.

Almost all freelancers are juggling multiple projects at once, so their loyalty to your brand is probably lower than a full-time employee who’s sporting company tshirts, stickers and other gaudy swag. While this isn’t necessarily a “make or break”, it is something to consider depending on the project you’re hiring the freelancer for.

4. Lack of Ability to Train a Freelancer

Every company is different. As a business owner, you know better than anybody there are nuances to your company that only could be figured out by working at the company. By not having the ability to properly train and onboard a freelancer, they may be missing out on crucial details which may be seen as second nature to a full-time employee. Of course, the remedy to this is building extensive, scalable systems your company follows religiously, but that’s the topic for another article. 

Freelancers can be an extremely valuable asset for entrepreneurs, particularly those who are in the early stages of development or those running on a tight budget. That being said, just like any other business decision, you should do your homework and think critically before jumping head first into the freelance economy. Best of luck.

Parkland Students Can School Us in Public Relations

The last time I checked, public relations wasn’t taught in school. Yet the students of Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, are now masters in PR and storytelling.

In just five weeks since the shooting spree that killed 17 of their classmates, a handful of these survivors have become pros at live TV interviews, created the “Never Again” campaign and raised millions of dollars — from celebrities and organizations like George and Amal Clooney, Oprah and Gucci — for the massive “March For Our Lives” demonstration that they’ve planned for Saturday in Washington. 

Act fast with emotion and urgency.

We can learn — in more ways that one — from these Parkland survivors. Their crisis PR hasn’t been about protecting a company or their brand. The stakes are much higher, literally life and death, and these kids have risen to the occasion. Their message was immediate, urgent and emotional — three key ingredients in effective PR. 

For days and weeks after the shooting, some students gave multiple TV interviews a day. “We are begging for our lives here,” March organizer Cameron Kasky told “Face the Nation” four days after the shootings at his school. “The adults lets us down,” fellow student activist Emma Gonzalez said.

They took to Twitter fast and furious, and Twitter worked quickly to verify student accounts with its little blue checkmarks. Gonzalez has 1.25 million Twitter followers.

These student activists have kept the conversation going — and, sadly, there’s been occasion to do so as they once again called for nationwide changes to gun laws following a shooting and lockdown today at at Maryland high school.

In times of crisis or breaking news, it’s important to be prepared right away to tell your story. If you don’t, others will tell it for you. I was speaking recently with a business about this very thing. This firm had been the subject of a negative news story on a Friday, and leaders wanted to wait until after the weekend to respond. Now that firm knows it needs a crisis communications plan and for leaders to be practiced in responding to news as it happens.

The soundbite rules and so does poise.

On TV and now on social media, the sound bite is important. You have to cut to the chase, break through the noise. These kids seem to be naturals at it. Growing up with cell phones in hand has its practical uses, I guess. Kasky on “60 Minutes” referred to himself and his peers as the “mass shooting generation.” If that doesn’t stick, in people’s minds, nothing will.

And let’s talk about poise here. These kids have dealt in facts and figures in the face of unspeakable tragedy with incredible grace and poise. I haven’t seen an interview with these student leaders in which they’ve been combative, disrespectful or gone low to spread lies and hateful slurs. They’re just really smart, fired up kids, learning while doing and teaching the adults in the room a thing or two, too.

They key to the soundbite is practice, practice, practice. The more interviews you do, the better you are at it. It also helps to write out talking points but to keep them short. Talking points aren’t meant to be entire speeches but just brief reminders of where you want to take the conversation. I like to think of talking points in terms of headlines — short and punchy.

Now I just wish these kids didn’t have so much practice.

7 Disciplines That Help Successful Entrepreneurs Work Smarter, Not Harder

Being “street smart,” or able to anticipate and deal with daily business problems and surprises, is generally recognized as a critical skill to have for business owners and entrepreneurs.

Most investors say they can recognize this capability when they see it, but it’s hard to define if you haven’t been there. They say you can’t have street smarts if you have never lived in the streets.

Some people argue that you can only be born with street smarts, but I see these as more of a function of experience. In many cases, they come from lessons learned from prior failures (and successes), but I believe the most productive street smarts are the result of personal disciplines, which can be learned and practiced by any business person.

These include the following:

1. Keep the emphasis on working smart, rather than working hard. 

This means using every resource to get smart on relevant issues before you start a business. Find out everything you can about the domain you are targeting, preferably by taking a job there to lean the unwritten rules before you try to compete with your own business. 

For example, we probably all know people who have started restaurants because they like to cook, but with absolutely no experience in the restaurant business.

No matter how hard they work, most of these fail, not because of their food, but for a lack of marketing, or service, or lack of cash flow management.

2.  Every conversation is a business communication or negotiation.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that everyone has to be your friend, or wants to be. You can work hard on friendly chatter, but results come from sending and receiving real information from the right people at the right time. Use preparation, practice, delivery, and ask for the order.

3.  Surround yourself with people who can help, not just be helpers.

We all have strengths and weaknesses, and the best business people understand their own. You must find partners and build a team of people smarter than you are in key areas, to complement your strengths. Look for a match in values, work ethic, and chemistry.

It takes discipline to recognize your needs ahead of time, carve out the time to do the recruiting job right, and resist the temptation to hire inexpensive interns, or unqualified family members.

Assuming or hoping that new team members can “learn on the job” and will free up your valuable time, without making mistakes, is not being street smart.

4. Spend time working on the business as well as in the business.

It takes discipline to focus on constantly improving processes and looking ahead for new customers, as well as looking behind for competitors sneaking up on you. As Andy Grove of Intel once said, “Only the paranoid survive.” If your business isn’t evolving and growing, you are failing.

5. Manage your work, health, and work-life balance. 

It’s hard for a business to be healthy if the leader isn’t healthy. Street smart business leaders recognize that they need down time and non-work activities to stay balanced. They learn and practice time management disciplines. Banish procrastination. Be decisive. Have some fun.

I have personally worked for two startups where the CEOs was so passionate and dedicated to the business that they were at work twenty hours a day, trying to make every decision, and destroyed their health or family relationships.

These individuals had no fun, were not successful, and would never be considered street smart by investors.

6. Manage your business cash flow personally every day. 

The most street smart business people manage cash flow relentlessly and never delegate decisions about spending money.

A big influx of orders may feel like success, but can kill your business if you don’t have the cash at the right time to produce, deliver and wait for payment.

7. Be the visible role model for urgency versus emergency. 

Street smart business leaders are not easily distracted by putting out fires in the business while they are working on the business. The best display a calm but visible urgency for scaling the business, and designing the next product generation. They know their team culture mirrors the leader.

Overall, street smarts requires that you put all these things together for problem solving, and dodge and weave effectively through the risky business streets. It means balancing your idealistic vision of how things could be, against the realities of the business world.

The alternative is a long and painful learning curve, which neither you nor your investors can afford.

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music review: Music, Garmin Pay, and comprehensive data capture motivate for success

Over the past few years I have tested various Garmin GPS sports watches, including the Forerunner 225, Forerunner 935, and Fenix 3 HR. One feature missing from all of these that I find essential for my recreational running, offline music streaming support, has finally come to Garmin in the form of the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music.

I ran with folks from Garmin, iHeartRadio, Firstbeat, and GU at CES with the SkullCandy Method wireless headset connected to a Garmin Forerunner 645 Music and enjoyed that brief time with this GPS sports watch. I’ve been running and cycling with the 645 Music for that past couple of weeks and think Garmin may have hit the sweet spot with the Forerunner 645 Music.


  • Display: 1.2 inch (30.4mm) 240 x 240 pixels resolution transflective memory-in-pixel color chemically strengthened glass
  • Storage: About 3.6GB of internal storage for up to 500 songs and 200 hours of activity data
  • Water resistance: 5 ATM
  • Connectivity and sensors: WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, ANT+, GPS, GLONASS, optical HR, barometer, compass
  • Bands: 20mm industry standard replaceable strap
  • Battery: xxx300 mAhxxxx rechargeable lithium-ion. 5 hours in GPS training mode with constant streaming music and up to 7 days in smartwatch mode with 24/7 HR monitoring
  • Dimensions: 42.5 x 42.5 x 13.5 mm and 42.2 grams

The Garmin Fenix 3 HR has been my personal GPS sports watch since 2016 and the most obvious difference right out of the box is the weight of the Forerunner 645 Music, about half of the Fenix 3 HR. It weighs in at just about the same as the Fitbit Ionic.


The Garmin Fenix 3 HR was the first Garmin I purchased for myself for long term use and it has served me very well. If I want to enjoy music though, it has required that I carry a phone or other music player when I run. This isn’t a terrible experience because I often capture photos during my runs, but it is also a bit freeing to leave the phone behind and just get out and run.

I also find the sleep tracking on Garmin devices to be useful, but only wore the Fenix 3 HR to bed a few times since it tended to knock my wife out as I twisted and turned in the night. It’s really just too large and heavy to sleep with every day.

The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music looks like a typical Garmin device with a round face, stainless steel bezel, solid plastic back, and silicone strap. I love that it has the traditional five button design with no touchscreen capability. When you run in the rain, sweat a lot, and want to switch screens or interact with your device the ability to control things with buttons is preferred.

Top ZDNET Reviews

The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music fits my 6 foot-1 inch, 250 pound frame well, but is also likely to fit others since it is only 42.5 mm in diameter and quite light. It is about as thick as an Apple Watch and slightly thinner than other Garmin devices I have recently tested. Universal 20mm bands can be used on the 645 Music, which means you can find a number of affordable band options on Amazon. You can dress it up or down to fit your needs.

The soft silicone band that comes with it works fine and I like the soft feel of it. A notched loop keeps the bitter end in place, but is also a bit of pain to move to other openings and remove. Then again, it is so comfortable and light that I only took it off to charge it every four or five days. This securing method also ensures the band stays on all the time, even during intense activity. The silicone band has a number of openings to fully adjust to your wrist size. The clasp is metal with a matte finish.

The display is not a touchscreen so all interactions are carried out through the use of five buttons; three on the left and two on the right. The display is the same size as most other Garmin watches, but the resolution is higher than most at 240 x 240 pixels. It looks great in all lighting conditions and is very visible even in bright direct sunlight.

The buttons are used for the following, moving from the top right and going clockwise: start/stop/select, back/lap, down, up, and light. The software associated with these button presses are described in detail in the watch software section of the review.

The optical heart rate monitor is centered on the back of the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music and this time it is nearly flush with the back. It incorporates Garmin’s newest elevate optical HR sensor for 24×7 recording every second. I never felt any discomfort caused by the heart rate monitor pressing against my left or right wrist.

There are four charging pins recessed on the side of the back. A proprietary USB charging cable and clamp is included with the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music. I confirmed that the advertised time of five hours for GPS tracking and music playback is accurate during my weeks of testing. I generally run three days a week for about 45 minutes to an hour each time, with music playing, so was able to get about five days between charges with these runs and 24/7 life tracking.

You can also connect the HRM-Run heart rate monitor strap, a $99.99 accessory, or a Running Dynamics Pod ($69.99), for an additional six running dynamics metrics. These include cadence, vertical oscillation, ground contact time, ground contact time balance, stride length, and vertical ratio.

Watch software

If you have used Garmin GPS sports watches before then it will be quick and easy for you to pick up and use the Forerunner 645 Music. Even if you are new to using these five buttons to navigate, it should only take you a short period of pressing the different buttons to figure out how to navigate around and find everything. There is a lot going on here with the Forerunner 645 Music, but the words that appear as you navigate are clear and easy to understand.

The main watch faces that are provided by default are fine, but I went to the Connect IQ store and installed a couple of other watch faces that provide a guick glance at the daily activity tracking that is important to me.

You can use the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music to track running, biking, treadmill, indoor track, indoor biking, pool swimming, snow skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, stand-up paddleboarding, rowing indoors and outdoors, walking, strength, cardio, yoga, elliptical, stair stepper, and others. Golfing and hiking are activities I tracked on the Fenix 3 HR, but they are not options on the Forerunner 645 Music. You can get more applications from the Connect IQ Store so I installed the 7-minute workout too since I like to perform bodyweight exercises. In my weeks of testing, I primarily used the running and cycling tracking, as detailed below.

The Forerunner 645 Music also offers the ability to track your phone by sending a signal to it via Bluetooth so that an audible alarm sounds to help you find your connected phone.

While the watch face appears all the time, pressing the up or down button scrolls through your available widgets. By default you can see your steps, performance, weather, notifications, heart rate, last run, music controls, and calendar. You can reorder these and also download more widgets on the Connect IQ store.

Like most recent Garmin devices, the 645 Music has an integrated WiFi radio so you can have your activity data synced to your Garmin Connect account when you return to a WiFi zone previously established. It’s great to enter my house after working out and have my data synced automatically to my Garmin account.

Press and hold on the light button to access a number of options, including find my phone, timer, stopwatch, wallet, lock keys, do not disturb toggle, sync, connection status, and power down. Garmin has a nice new interface where the options appear with color icons in a circular layout that you rotate using the up and down buttons. This looks to be a perfect interface for a Samsung Gear rotating dial and maybe that is something we will see in the future from Garmin.

Pressing and holding in on the up button provides access to watch face options, alarm clock, history, and the vast number of other settings.

Pressing and holding in on the down button brings up an entirely new interface we haven’t seen before. This action takes you to the music interface that looks similar to the light button press and hold with various options in a circular format that are accessed by moving up or down. Press the top right button, also highlighted in this interface, to make your selection. Options in the music interface include manage providers and headphones, choose your source as the 645 Music or your connected phone, volume controls, play/pause, skip ahead, move back, repeat toggle, and shuffle toggle.

There are an incredible number of settings and customization options available that I cannot begin to cover them all here in this review. For example, in the running app you can customize what may be an unlimited number of data screens (after setting up eight I ran out of data to add) in a layout from one to four fields with timer, distance, pace, speed, heart rate, dynamics, cadence, temperature, elevation, compass, navigation, muscle oxygen, and other fields. I recommend you spend some quality time customizing everything exactly how you want it and then be ready to tweak things as you perform your activity and find you want to view your data differently. I prefer to run with three screens and have my primary one show four fields for quick glanceable info.

You can setup alerts, train to a metronome, select auto laps and auto pause, view 3D speed or distance, have your data fields auto scroll, and even change up all of the colors. It’s actually rather stunning how much customization is available on the Forerunner 645 Music, which means it will satisfy every user’s needs.

One feature I did not notice on the Forerunner 935, but found quickly on the Forerunner 645 Music is the performance measurements provided by Firstbeat. It is one of the selected widgets from the main interface and requires a few workouts before providing you with some insights. You can see your training status, VO2 max, recovery time, training load, and race predictor. I am currently training for another half marathon with a goal to achieve a personal best. My best half was my first one with a time of 1 hour and 57 minutes so I am shooting for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Currently, the performance measurements estimate a time of 1 hour and 56 minutes so I am on the right path to improve this time.

If you wear the Forerunner 645 Music at night, it will track your sleep automatically. Sleep data is captured and presented as deep or light sleep with awake times. It is not quite as thorough and useful as the Fitbit sleep tracker, but is still helpful. I tend to take naps on the weekends if I get up very early to watch English Premier League football, but it doesn’t seem to track short periods of sleep like this and I did not see an option for manually tracking sleep.

Garmin Pay just launched yesterday and I was able to set it up with my Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa card. My USAA Visa debit did not work and I understand that MasterCard support has not yet rolled out. You do have to enter a PIN using the up, down, and select buttons while making a payment and then you can see a status countdown go around the display to show you how much time you have remaining to make the payment.

Smartphone software and website

Collecting the data is important, but using that data for tracking trends, improving performance, challenging friends, and identifying problem areas is also very important. Garmin is one of the few companies that offers the Garmin Connect app for iOS, Android, and Windows 10 Mobile. The app was recently updated and I prefer it over the last version that I also enjoyed using.

When you first launch the smartphone app you will see a screen called My Day. This is a dashboard and completely customizable to your preferences. Simply scroll to the bottom and choose to Edit My Day. Here you can choose from the following cards; heart rate, steps, intensity minutes, floors, sleep, stress score, weight, and calories. There are also toggles to see yesterday’s stats and the last 7 days of stats. In addition, when you record an activity (run, bike ride, etc.) on that day a box appears up top with that card. Tapping any card takes you into much more fine detail for that measurement.

Other tabs in the smartphone software include challenges, calendar, news feed, and notifications. Tap on the tab icon to see more details for each of these.

You can also tap the upper left menu icon to jump to insights, activity stats, health stats, workouts, course, segments, gear, connections, groups, LiveTrack, download golf courses, Connect IQ store, Garmin devices, settings, and help. This menu and user interface matches what you see on the website as well. You can view data over different time frames, see your records, view the badges you earned, see totals and averages, and much more.

There are options to control phone notifications during your activity and at all other times when you are not recording data as part of activity. If you are connected to an Android smartphone, you can go to SettingsSmart Notifications in the Garmin phone app to customize exactly which apps provide notifications to the Forerunner 645 Music. You do not have this per app control when connected to an iPhone. (Thanks to Dave Haas for directing me to this setting.)

With a paired Android phone, you can also select to reply to messages with text you have already setup in advance on your phone. This includes customized text responses.

Once you select the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music in the devices list, you can then access all of the specific settings that will appear on the watch. Through this utility you can organize which apps, widgets, and watch faces appear and in what order. You still need to work directly on the watch to customize data fields and such, but this helps you control the Connect IQ part of the experience.

The Garmin Connect website experience is very similar to what you see in the smartphone application, with even more capability to generate reports, import or export data, setup connections to other applications (such as Strava, RunKeeper, and MyFitnessPal), and more. Similar to the snapshots interface on the phone, you have a dashboard on Garmin Connect that you can customize.

I created dashboard tabs for daily activity, running, cycling, and hiking since those are my primary activities. You can then customize the view that appears in your dashboard or choose to jump to a full page view of the selected data.

Over on the left you will find the three line button that opens up a massive list of options you can navigate to for more data and information. Another option lets you manage your profile, settings, and 3rd party connections.

Computer software

One way to manage your device is through desktop software called Garmin Express. While updates to the watch can come through your smartphone, I find connecting to a computer a more reliable way to check and insure I have the latest firmware on the watch.

I rarely ever look at Quick Start Manuals, but I highly recommend you look through this one and find it interesting that the manual in the evaluation unit had a red Post-It flag for the music section since this is a new feature and getting music onto your Forerunner 645 Music is on aspect that is not intuitive.

The Garmin Express utility for the Forerunner 645 Music includes areas for music, IQ apps, tools content, and Garmin Connect. Garmin Connect is the website where you view your data and create reports.

The new unique feature for this watch is obviously music. Selecting the music option takes you to a screen showing My Music and Music Apps. Music on your computer can be organized by playlists, artists, albums, songs, genres, podcasts, and audiobooks. You select the folders on your computer where you want to scan for such content. It’s not the most elegant solution, but gets the job done.

After finding content on your computer, you select that content and choose to transfer it to the Forerunner 645 Music. You can browse your computer and watch music content within this utility.

There are currently no music apps listed in the Connect IQ store so stay tuned for further developments there.

In the US, Garmin has a partnership with iHeartRadio to provide music content for Forerunner 645 Music owners. You need to pay the monthly subscription fee of $9.99 to get All Access service in order to sync to the Forerunner 645 Music. While I listened to an iHeartRadio station during my introductory run at CES, the service has not yet launched for the Forerunner 645 Music so you need to manually transfer songs you own to the device at this time.

Pricing and competition

You can purchase the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music now for $449.99. If you don’t need the music functionality, you can save $50 and purchase the Forerunner 645 for $399.99.

For music playback, the best alternatives are the Fitbit Ionic, Apple Watch Series 3, Samsung Gear S3, and Samsung Gear Sport. These range in price from $300 to $350. TomTom has the Spark 3 Cardio + Music for $249.99, but it has less capability than the Garmin Forerunner 645 and has a mono display.

The current $449.99 price of the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music may be about $50 too high to compete with these options, but that depends on how much vast amounts of data and performance measurements mean to you.

Daily usage experiences and conclusion

The primary focus for this new Forerunner 645 Music is the music so let’s talk a bit about my experiences in this area. Garmin has a list of compatible headphones with notes in the right column about the preferred wrist to wear the 645 Music. I tested out the Samsung Gear IconX (2018), Jabra Elite Sport, Blueant Pump HD, and Skullcandy Method Wireless headsets over my time with the watch. The Skullcandy headphones are the only ones listed by Garmin, but the rest worked fine if worn on the wrist that offered the best signal.

First let me caveat this by saying I am 73 inches tall and weigh just over 250 pounds at this time. My chest is about 48 inches around so I have quite a bit of mass for Bluetooth to pass through. Thus, the Jabra and Samsung headphones were terrible when I wore the 645 Music on my left wrist. It cut out and completely disconnected every time. Wearing the 645 Music on my right wrist solved that issue with these headsets so your experiences may vary. The Blueant and Skullcandy headset performed flawlessly with the 645 Music on either wrist.

While I try to cover my experiences and details of wearables here on ZDNet, no one beats Mr. Ray Maker when it comes to wearable tech reviews. I highly recommend you check out the DC Rainmaker full review of the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music.

Without the music, the Forerunner 645 Music is essentially a Forerunner 935 or Fenix 5 device, in terms of activity and sports functionality. However, it is also less expensive so even if you don’t want the music support you can still save over these other devices and have a capable GPS sports watch. There is even a Garmin Forerunner 645 that sells for $50 less, but I prefer to have the capability for music so am looking to this watch as my next wearable purchase.

It is very quick and easy to press in on the top right button, choose run and press it again, and then see the display turn green seconds later as a GPS signal is acquired. I ran in Florida, New York City, and at home in Washington State and the Forerunner 645 performed flawlessly in all of these locations.

I also connected the Forerunner 645 to my Garmin speed and cadence sensors in order to track more details of my cycling. Again, the connection was reliable and the data interesting.

Nothing is ever perfect, but the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music gets as close to perfection as possible with the ability to track multiple sports, play music without a phone, buy things at stores without a phone, track your activity and sleep 24/7 for several days, and serve as a basic smartwatch for essential notifications. It provides much more detail and data than an Apple Watch or Fitbit so it’s a great fit for the casual athlete that wants more than the basics.

Toshiba Portégé X30-E-12H review: A lightweight, compact business ultraportable

Toshiba’s Portégé X30 business ultrabook has had an upgrade since I examined it in the middle of last year. Back then it was the Portégé X30-D, now it’s the Portégé X30-E. This year’s models sport 8th-generation Intel Core i7 or i5 processors, and up to 1TB of SSD storage.

Since the Portégé X30-E is essentially a specifications and performance upgrade, key features around design and usability remain largely unchanged from last year.

As with the X30-D, the 2018 version is generally impressive on the hardware front — except for one recurring issue: the lid is extremely flimsy. With almost no pressure at all, it’s possible to bend the lid alarmingly far. In everyday use, I’d be concerned about robustness in this area.

The Portégé X30-E series has the same dimensions and 1.05kg starting weight as last year’s ‘D’ model, but uses Intel’s latest 8th-generation Core i7 and i5 processors.

Image: Toshiba

By contrast, the flexibility I found in the wrist rest of last year’s model seems to have been dealt with, and the whole of the base section is quite tough.

Toshiba has packed this 13.3-inch laptop into a reasonably lightweight and compact chassis measuring 316mm by 227mm with a thickness of 16.4mm, while the starting weight of 1.05kg is just shy of the magic sub-1kg mark. These are the same dimensions as last year’s model, but I’d accept a few grams extra in exchange for a more robust lid.

Silver branding and hinges are the only elements that disturb an otherwise grey livery.

Image: Toshiba

The lid is grey with a lightly brushed finish, with silver hinges and Toshiba’s brand mark adding the only splashes of colour. This laptop’s design is entirely businesslike.

Top ZDNET Reviews

The screen tilts back to a maximum of about 130 degrees, so if you like more flexible devices with full 360-degree screen rotation, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

There’s plenty of room above the screen for infrared cameras as well as a standard webcam, so this laptop supports Windows Hello authentication. The side bezels are 10mm wide, so there’s no truck with edge-to-edge design here, which makes the Portégé X30-E look somewhat old-fashioned.

The screen itself has a matte finish, which makes it a delight to work with in situations where reflections can be distracting. Brightness at the 100 percent setting could be a bit higher, although I found it acceptable when set at 40 percent, which is the default for working on battery power.

Not all variants of the Portégé X30-E have a touch screen, although my review sample did, and it was very responsive. The screen resolution on all X30-E variants at Toshiba’s UK website at the time of writing was 1,920 by 1,080 pixels. That’s not exactly groundbreaking, but perfectly acceptable.

The keyboard is quite comfortable to use, and I had no trouble touch-typing accurately at my maximum speed after a while. However, the right-side non-character keys such as square brackets and hash are a little narrow, while the cursor keys are particularly small; these take a bit of getting used to.

The keyboard provides a good typing platform, although there’s a learning curve with some of the smaller keys.

Image: Toshiba

The keyboard backlight has just one brightness level, but you can configure this to any of three different intensities in the Toshiba Settings utility, which also provides access to several other configuration options. I prefer toggling through brightness levels at the point of use, and this arrangement seems over-engineered.

There’s a very responsive touchpad with physical buttons above it. The pad itself has built-in clicking, and the physical buttons are really designed for use with the blue AccuPoint stick between the G, H, and B keys. Between these, the touchscreen and an external mouse, there are plenty of options for interacting with this laptop. There’s a fingerprint sensor built into the top left corner of the touchpad — a location that some users might find annoying.

As far as ports and connectors are concerned, the highlight is a pair of USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports with data transfer, DisplayPort, and charging support. These sit side by side on the right edge, and are flanked by a HDMI port and a MicroSD card slot. On the left edge is this laptop’s only USB 3.0 port, along with the 3.5mm headset jack. My review unit also had a smartcard reader.

My review unit, the Portégé X30-E 12H, is not currently available on Toshiba’s UK website. It’s the top-end model, and Toshiba told me it will cost £1,699 (ex. VAT). The specifications listed below are taken from the laptop itself.

  • Toshiba Portege X30-E-12H, Intel Core i7-8650U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 620, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD
    £1,699 (ex. VAT)

There are four other models listed online, without pricing information at the time of writing, but I have been told the range will start at £799 (ex. VAT). All include Intel 8th Generation processors:

  • Toshiba Portege X30-E-11U, Intel Core i7-8550U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 620, 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD
  • Toshiba Portege X30-E-10G, Intel Core i7-8550U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3 inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 620, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD
  • Toshiba Portege X30-E-10U, Intel Core i5-8250U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3 inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 620,8GB RAM, 256GB SSD
  • Toshiba Portege X30-E-10D, Intel Core i5-8250U, Windows 10 Pro, 13.3 inch 1,920 x 1,080 non-touchscreen, Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD

Battery life is quoted as ‘up to’ a rather precise 14 hours 25 minutes for two of the above models, and 10 hours 10 minutes for the other two. I doubt that most users will manage either of these figures, and some may even struggle to achieve a day’s worth of computing away from mains power. Even with moderate workloads — document creation, music streaming, and web browsing — I drained 25 percent of the life from my review model’s battery in one two-hour session.

The Harman Kardon speakers sit on the underside of the chassis towards the front. They deliver a reasonable amount of volume, but are somewhat lacking in bass tones. Nothing unusual there.


The Portégé X30-E is a case of ‘more of the same’ from Toshiba. Essentially a specification upgrade on last year’s X30-D model, the flexible lid issue still grates.

It’s difficult to assess value for money across the range given the absence of pricing details, but I would have expected a stronger chassis design and better battery life from my top-end review unit, given its £1,699 (ex. VAT) price.

Still, Toshiba fans will no doubt appreciate the familiarity of what’s on offer here — a lightweight, compact, and up-to-date business ultraportable.


Apple’s answer to crumb-jammed keyboards? Crush debris, then blast it out
Apple has been granted a patent for a keyboard with crushers and bellows to destroy and blast out crumbs.

Use HP, Lenovo or Dell? Get ready for new updates to guard against Spectre
Intel’s fixed microcode updates to mitigate the Spectre attack have now reached Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge chips.

Intel’s turbo-charged Optane SSDs just got more affordable with the new 800P
Intel brings its Optane SSDs to mainstream consumers starting at $129.

Windows 10 bug: Microsoft fixes issue that broke USB, built-in cameras, keyboards
Microsoft has addressed a USB and onboard device bug it introduced in its February security update.

New cheap Windows 10 laptops to challenge Google Chromebooks as Microsoft takes aim at classrooms (TechRepublic)
The new devices include notebooks for under $200 and 2-in-1 laptop/tablet PCs for under $300.

Read more reviews

Vermont resort for ‘Bachelor Winter Games’ ordered to close

A private Vermont ski resort that was the setting for ABC’s “The Bachelor Winter Games” has been shut down for failing to pay taxes.

A spokeswoman for the Hermitage Club said Monday that the resort missed a required payment to the state and was ordered to close until it is paid. She said the members-only club hopes to reopen by this weekend.

Continue Reading Below

The resort owes more than $1 million in back taxes and recently laid off about 80 people. Last month, a bank filed a foreclosure notice on several properties, saying the club had defaulted on more than $16 million in loans.

The Hermitage Club hosted “The Bachelor Winter Games,” a four-episode spin-off of “The Bachelor” that ran in conjunction with the Olympics.

Free ice cream at Dairy Queen! It’s for a good cause

Bundle up and grab yourself some ice cream … it’s for a good cause.

With large portions of the country preparing for heavy snow, severe storms or tornadoes on Tuesday, the first day of spring, Dairy Queen is handing out free ice cream cones.

Continue Reading Below

It is the fourth consecutive year that the Minneapolis chain has raised money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. In exchange for a vanilla ice cream cone, people are asked to make a donation to the non-profit organization that raises money for medical research and children’s hospitals.

Dairy Queen contributed nearly $300,000 from the event last year.