TourismGobble, Gobble! No Customers for Thanksgiving this Year so I Thought I'd Throw Back a few Cervezas and do another IamA. My Wife and I Built our Very Own Boutique Mexican Beach Resort from Scratch AMA!
Nov 25th 2016 by Oax_Mike • 41 Questions • 232 Points
Hello again! We’re the team behind Intel’s Compute Stick, the tiny computer the size of a pack of gum you connect directly to an HDMI TV or display. You may remember us from our last AMA about our Skull Canyon NUC, another small form factor computer.
They may not look it, but Compute Sticks are full-fledged PCs capable of running Windows 10 and Linux. That means you have the flexibility to do whatever you want — play games, stream video, get work done, run a server — and you aren’t limited to a walled garden of apps, as is the case with other entertainment devices with this form factor. So we’d love to answer your questions relating to Compute Sticks, from their development to technical details to how to use them. We’ll also answer questions about breakfast, horse-sized ducks, and whatever you’ve got. Bruce Patterson (/u/BrucePatterson-Intel), marketing manager, will be answering your questions today. And here’s proof.
Ask us anything.
ps. If you’d like to pick up a Compute Stick, keep an eye out for Black Friday deals from online retailers such as NewEgg and Amazon.
pps. We’re giving away 3 Compute Sticks at random, to random questioners!
Thanks all for a great AMA! Appreciate all the great questions and comments. I will do another check on this AMA later today and see if there are a few things that need to be answered. And the three lucky winners of Intel Compute Sticks are being communicated with right now. Thanks and happy computing!
Is purchasing property a difficult process for foreign nationals in Mexico?
What are some good white elephant gifts for $20 or less?
My boyfriend used to work in the ER as a scribe before he started medical school. He swore that on nights there was a full moon, weird things would happen. People would, for some reason, be more aggressive/emotional than usual, leading to strange or violent injuries. There was such a correlation, people (doctors, nurses, staff alike) would mark the date of the full moon on the calendar just so they weren't blindsided by an especially busy night. He always tried to get that day off, but of course, it wasn't always up to him.
My aunt, who's also an ER nurse in a different city, apparently swears the same thing. My mom's best friend, another ER nurse in another city, has also been remembered to say the same thing.
Have you noticed any correlation?
Is there a NUC that supports Linux hibernate yet? Or does that still brick the device?
Yes and no.
It depends on where the property is and what you plan to do with it.
The vast majority of land in Mexico can be bought by a foreign national with no special requirements whatsoever - the only land that is more complicated is land within 50km of the border or within Mexico City...of course the water counts as a border so most of the land foreigners are interested in comes with an extra step or two in the buying process.
There are two basic ways to buy land within this protected zone:
Form a Corporation. Since 1996 two foreigners can start a corporation with no Mexican shareholders. Pretty simple process, really...you go to a notary, fork over about US$1,000 and you've got a corporation. You can do this on a tourist visa on vacation. You don't have to be a resident to form a corporation. But you do need 2 people. Anyhow, you own the corporation and the corporation owns the land - so there is the loophole. The one caveat is that you must legally operate a business on the land at some point and you'll need to pay an accountant every month to do your taxes even if the tax form is simply saying "Welp, we're still in zeros over here." Another downside of this strategy is that if/when you sell the land, all profit is taxed at corporate rates. (Mexican law is the same as the US where you can make like $200,000 profit on the sale of your primary home...but basically a corporation can't use this exemption.)
Fideicomiso - or bank trust. Basically a bank buys the land, puts it in their name and then writes up a trust giving you 100% control over the property. This is what most retirees do to buy land since they won't be running a business. Downside is that it costs about US$5-7K in lawyer fees to set up and US$500-700/year in "maintenance fees."
We did #1.
It's important to note that if you live here long enough you become eligible for citizenship...if you become a citizen you can then transfer the deed out of your corporation or bank trust into your name as a Mexican citizen. A lot of foreigners do this.
Many foreigners use an old school workaround, too, called a Prestanombre...or Name Borrowing...basically a Mexican friend that you REALLY trust puts the property in their name but it's "really" yours...I won't go into the inherent risks with this strategy.
Socks. You can get ones with funny prints which may seem ridiculous, but will come in handy when you keep putting laundry day off.
Yup! It's actually a really common superstition. I think it's probably all in our heads, but I swear we have the craziest patients, especially psych patients on full moons!
I'm looking into getting an answer for you. Hold on.
How safe is it there in general? (I'm from Australia so not too sure what it's like other than what I see on tv).
Four things: 1. Thank you for your reliable reviews. 2. Any rec'd laptop bags (not backpacks) less expensive than your briefcase recs? 3. Bluetooth headset rec for dictation s/w (spec, Dragon for Mac)? I didn't see it mentioned in recent reviews.. 4. Sugg: How about a new section just for baby-related stuff (we're expecting our first..). Thank you!
This is a bit of a loaded question, for obvious reasons, but it's generally very safe here in Oaxaca State.
Mexico is an enormous country and different regions very wildly in terms of how closely they resemble Ciudad Juarez.
I mean, yeah, whether you're talking statistically or anecdotally, it's still going to be less safe here on some level compared to most fully developed nations but only marginally so.
The biggest danger here is driving, particularly at night. Roads aren't in the best condition (not awful, either) and are poorly marked, with random speed bumps, mostly non-existent lighting (depending on where you're at) and way too many drunk drivers (from 9pm onward).
Most people who find trouble here are looking for it but sure, a visit to Mexico is certainly rougher around the edges than wine tasting in Napa Valley.
Answer to 4: Baby-related gear is something we're definitely considering expanding our coverage on and we make sure to log all these requests and suggestions from readers, so I'll make sure to make a note. Also, congratulations!
Have you ever met any celebrities on the clock?if so, could you talk about it?
You really botched linux support for a long time (while having a version that was pre-installed with ubuntu). Many people had to stay on 3.16 when 4.3 was a thing. Why did you not mainline proper audio, s3 (and lower) states and sdio?
No, I haven't. I work in the MD suburbs just outside of DC so I wouldn't be too surprised if a politician or someone of a similar caliber came in. I actually used to work as a veterinary technician before I was an RN and had a famous Wizards player bring in one of his dogs to our clinic.
nicman24 - I understand your frustration as we do hear this from our Linux supporters on a somewhat regular basis. The simple (although I realize completely unsatisfactory answer to you) is that Intel has to make priority decisions on what OSes to support for each of our processors. And there are simply some combinations of processors, OS and features that do not end up getting supported at the end of that analysis. I am no expert on this but this is my understanding of why we are in this situation.
I've played with the compute stick and I'm wondering about heat. How are you resolving the heat challenges while trying to improve performance on something this small?
I can tell you that we busted our asses like I never imagined possible to make it happen.
We built Gecko Rock with about half the capital we really needed...via creativity and elbow grease.
And we have 4 rooms, so 8 people.
Rooms have a King-Sized bed so we mostly cater to couples.
What gave you the inspiration and desire to build this resort?
Have you ever seen anything which was too gross for you to handle?
Oh dear god! That grosses me out thinking about it too. I had a patient once who brought in a mucus-y stool sample in a wad of toilet paper. Super gross.
That is a great point. Don't tell my boss, that I miss that opportunity!
Understanding you don't wanna get too detailed into your finances, can you share a bit for someone who's thought about similar businesses in the past? How many nights (or guests) per year do you need to book to break even? Are you trying to make a certain amount of profit a year, or just enough to finance your lifestyle?
With newer technology like usb 3.0 do you think you could covert this pocket computer into a performance booster (by that I mean a a flash drive that could help processors compute data)?
I'd be happy to give you more detailed numbers via email if you're serious about doing similar.
But the answer to your other questions are a bit complicated given our unique scenario/business model and depend greatly on your point of view.
Since we had to save up cash to do this (financing isn't an option as local banks won't loan to you and your home bank isn't going to finance a project overseas) we own it outright...and since we live here, this means that we don't pay any rent/mortgage.
So...how you would calculate break even numbers depends on whether or not you're calculating in "paying back our investment" or not.
We can get by here (no offense to those who survive on much, much less) on around $15,000/year so depending on the number of rooms/nights, the first 10 reservations per year are our sort of "break even" number...where we earn enough to survive.
From a business/investment point of view this clearly isn't breaking even at all, particularly given that we ought to be paid a "salary" for running the resort.
But I'd say that 20 reservations as a minimum per year puts us in a place where we don't need to stress about money.
Our end goal is to earn approximately $100,000/year and when we hit that threshold we'll start closing more. We're still a very long way from hitting this point :) Every season so far we've doubled our sales, though, so we're not worried about it or anything.
So the answer is a combination of the two...yes, we have an eventual number in mind but the true purpose here is to finance our lifestyle...much of the reason we'd like to earn more is that we liquidated every single asset we had to do this...we own the resort and that's awesome but we're in our 40s without a single penny in traditional retirement savings....so even when we do start making $100k we'll likely stash 50%+ of that each year into the bank/retirement investments/etc.
How do the specs of the 'Compute Stick' compare to modern day computers? How would the Compute Stick handle graphically intense games?
I've checked out /r/financialindependence before but that's not exactly the lifestyle we are going for...I mean, it's along a similar vein but I am not looking to bust ass for a while and then retire early, per se, my philosophy is more to take some of my retirement every year so that I don't hate work and yearn to retire early :)
But yeah, feel free to reach out if you ever want to chat about your plans.
Have a bit of a taboo question here, have you ever used/ known that you can use macOS on your intel NUCs?
It's too early to call this year's revenue because we're just starting the season now but it looks like we'll earn around $40k this year.
We're very much still in the early stages of growth. Our first year of being open we didn't make enough money to live off of and so I got into freelance writing to make ends meet but every year since we've doubled our sales...if we wind up doubling again this season we'll do better than $40k but it's too early to tell. We do already have way more bookings at this point of the year compared to last November, though.
Our end goal is to earn about $100k/year for the two of us...but bear in mind that we can live pretty well here on $20k/year so even earning $60k would mean living insanely well if you chose to.
Just wanted to thank you for the NUCs, they are amazing! We use a lot of them where i work for our projects.
My question is, what are the biggest problems in creating computers that are so small and make them work without blowing up/overheating?
For all of us medical students going through our ED rotation, what should we take away from the rotation and what things can we do to make your job easier?
Can always epoxy a cable
Ask the docs as many questions as you can. Try to be proactive and connect the dots. One of my favorite things about working in the ER is when you have a patient and don't know what's going on so you have to investigate. It's almost like solving a puzzle and the more information you get, the closer you get to a diagnosis.
Probably the best thing you can do to make our lives easier is to just be nice and courteous, not just to the nurses, but all the staff. It really goes a long way when MDs, med students, PAs, NPs, etc don't give off an egotistical "I'm better than you" vibe. I think respect goes a long way. Good luck and I hope you enjoy your rotation!
In general, I'm anti-theft!
The compute stick is designed with a security notch in the back end of it, designed to allow someone to secure the device when that is needed. We have many applications where compute sticks are being used where theft could be a problem, such as college campuses, but this has not been an issue with the product.
I'm looking forward to the world we're entering regarding external GPUs. With TB3 allowing for 40 gigabit throughput, you can actually run an external GPU on a NUC or laptop with little-to-no bottleneck.
With that being said, the few external GPU enclosures using TB3 that have been announced so far are extremely expensive. Is it possible we might see Intel produce their own?
External GPUs do create some exciting opportunities. And i agree that today they are quite expensive. I don't expect that you will see Intel do their own, but we are working with the industry to encourage more companies to look at doing them which we think will help create some that are more entry level.
BTW - ever see the external GPU that someone created themselves? Pretty cool!
How small realistically do you think mini-PC's and/or "stick" PC's can get?
We are always looking opportunities to make things smaller, faster, cheaper, etc. If you are looking for a traditional PC (ie. use Windows) devices like the stick are generally as small as they can be today. I expect that we will continue to see this size shrink, but it is not clear how much benefit there is to keeping going much smaller. However, there are already tons of computers that are much smaller - smart watches and the like are all computers, but they don't have the full PC experience that I think you are referring to.
I was quite impressed with the iGPU performance on the Skull Cannon NUC, and after looking at indiegogo/Kickstarter projects like the Smach Z and the GPD WIN, it made me wonder: Is there a possibility of Intel joining the party of handheld computers?
Interesting. Intel tends to try to develop new products in spaces where we feel that other companies are not currently servicing. In places where we see others engages, Intel typically tries to see how they can support those companies with the right technologies to make their devices optimal. So I wouldn't expect to see Intel develop a competitive product to these, but hopefully they will continue to be based on Intel.
This question is more about how a cool project comes to be from a giant company like intel.
This is a pretty niche project, obviously not something just anyone wants to buy. I know some companies allow team to pitch a product and if they like the idea they will take a chance on it. Is that how something like this becomes possible?
Also, I'm extremely glad when I see support for Linux.
Great question. At Intel a lot of our company's focus is on the main things that we do - produce the best processors in the world. But we have technology labs that spend all their time working on creating new possibilities (the idea that led to the compute stick came from one of these labs) as well as small product development teams (where I work) that take the best of these ideas and figure out how to make real products out them. And we are simply measured on if we can do our job profitably - if we can we get to keep doing it!
Amazing tech you have here! Can these handle 4k Youtube video streaming?
Yes! All of our current compute sticks can support 4k video (our first generation product did not)
Do you have any plans to release other devices similar to these? Such as a raspberry pi type device for those who need a bit more horsepower?
The Compute Stick is currently planned to remain as a finished computer device, not really targeted for developers and makers. Intel does offer the Galileo board which is more along the lines of a higher performing Raspberry Pi.
Have you considered building sort of a "docking station" where thermals wouldn't be a problem, more ports would be available and the CPU could run as fast as it gets (as they probably can, but passive cooling makes it no bueno)?
So a place to dock the compute stick that would provide more outputs and perhaps some additional cooling for the stick? Interesting idea, although once it gets much bigger than a stick, I would think that people might just prefer to purchase a mini PC (like the Intel NUC) which would provide great performance than could be achieved with an external dock (the internal cooling will always be more successful that the cooling from the dock).
Just to clarify, the Intel compute stick is not passive cooling. It does have a very small fan inside that is used to maintain temperatures and allow for greater performance than passive cooling would.