photos by kevin m sutton photos by kevin m sutton

Writing Samples

Published Material // Kevin Sutton

// The Trades: Facts, Figures & Future

// An Interview with a Lifelong Lineman

// Product Page: Twister® Pro Family

// 1663: Los Alamos National Laboratory Science & Technology Magazine

// An Essay On Augmented Reality

// LANL R&D100 Award Winner: Atomic Armor

// A Community of Engineers to Support Mars Exploration

// Be Here Now (personal/comedy)

// Making Tech Personal: Excerpts (ghostwritten):

Cellular Carriers, Jetsetting, and Connectivity Abroad

The accessibility and affordability of modern travel has been a tipping point for our society. It's a mind-bending notion to consider the fact that any individual can quickly pack a bag, book a flight with a few clicks in an app, and arrive in a new locale - domestic or international - with minimal logistical effort and time.

Additionally, the sheer portability of modern electronics has made it possible for a single mobile device to take the place of several: a smartphone now carries with it the capability to be a music player, an e-book reader, a note-taking device, email portal, camera, photo editor, and social networking tool along with countless other roles.

A Galaxy Not Too Far Away

How To Stay Connected Abroad

Mobile devices have streamlined the process further by allowing the traveler to take all of their electronic conveniences they've grown accustomed to at home - apps, networks, contacts - along with them: provided they have some sort of data connection. This makes it markedly important to find a mobile service provider that is as flexible as you are when you travel.

Some travelers opt to take their mobile plan on the road: many carriers offer add-on plans for the international traveler, specifically for the area of the world they intend on visiting. Other travelers elect to stay connected with the Wi-Fi option available in most smartphones, tablets, and laptops. While the availability of Wi-Fi can be spotty and sporadic in certain locales; certain cellular providers are better than others, offering their own hotspots in international airports and travel hubs, complimentary for subscribers or included in their travel rate plans.

Utilizing the Right Device

Yet another option is to invest in an unlocked phone. For example, Android users could opt for the ever-popular Samsung Galaxy S8 or the very capable iOS-equipped Apple iPhone 7. While they may seem pricey compared to some carrier-locked phones, having an unlocked phone allows the user to operate the phone on a variety of different networks - including international ones. Many international carriers offer pre-paid SIM cards that you may simply insert into your own unlocked phone (preserving all of your settings, contacts, content, and applications) and you're using the phone internationally on a local network in the same way you would domestically. Typically, you're also allowed the option to reload minutes, as well as data usage on the same card, so you don't have to keep purchasing new cards.

Security As A Priority

If you plan on using your laptop while traveling, keep in mind that you'll need access to either a Wi-Fi hotspot, or the ability to create one with your phone, allowing you to tether your computer to your mobile device and use your cellular data plan. If you'd rather connect directly, some providers do offer many secured access points worldwide that you may used simply because you are a customer, or at a very reasonable additional cost. It's important to keep in mind the necessity to keep your data secure while traveling, and not use unfamiliar and open networks to share your personal data.

Finding A Comprehensive Option

Probably the best all-around option is to go with an internationally-friendly carrier that offers comprehensive plans that cover at least minimal international travel so you aren't hit with unexpected overages and charges when you leave the country. It's also a good bet to choose one that focuses their resources on offering hotspots internationally so free Wi-Fi is accessible to you as a customer of that particular provider. In this case, not all carriers are created equal. It's worth doing a bit of research to find the one that may suit you and your travel habits the best.

Making Tech Personal

Mobile electronics allow users to connect to the world in a way that wasn't possible a mere decade ago, making them useful, even powerful, and of course convenient. A key idea to keep in mind when using these tools is to always recognize their purpose - to streamline, and even simplify one's life.

Researchers have even found that the better we manage the influx of clutter in our lives - both digital and real-world - the less stress we have. There are countless articles that break down how clutter affects us and how being organized can actually improve your mental and physical well-being. It's become a commonly agreed upon sentiment that implementing strategies and structures to help us retain a de-cluttered life is as important as avoiding stress. It simply is a part of a healthy life.

Walking Shadows

Applications as Tools

With the dawn of mobile application development, new apps are written every day for user-specific applications: software that addresses a particular goal for a particular demographic with certain purpose. A good example of this would be (if you happen to have the new iPhone 8) our virtual-friend Siri. Voice-command operations used to be cumbersome and difficult to use, but in recent years that's all changed. Now operating your phone hands-free with Siri (or a similar voice recognition tool) is something that many mobile device owners use readily, especially when it's a necessity - while driving, for example.

Voice command operation allows the user to access data quickly and accurately without having to fumble around with the device, in many cases saving time and energy. But that's only the beginning: there are countless app-driven strategies to de-clutter, simplify, and organize your life to save you headaches and streamline your day with minimal effort.

A timeless favorite is Evernote, an app devoted to organization across multiple channels. Dropbox, Asana, IFTTT (If This, Then That), and Shoeboxed are all among the must-have list, offering free options to do everything from automation and information sharing all the way to expense tracking and team management tools. There's an abundance of these highly effective and useful apps that are free to use and when implemented correctly can save time, money, and headaches.

Develop Personal Strategies

Individual strategies to stay organized will vary due to the variety of different lifestyles we lead. Careers, goals, even the location of the person will determine the most effective plan of action. A healthy way to address what needs the most attention to staying organized is to look at priorities: time management, responsibilities, access to information, and ease-of-use are all channels that come into consideration for most people. From diet and fitness plans, to synced shopping lists and team delegation, with a moment of introspection we can figure out what we could simplify, coordinate, or centralize. From there, it's easy to develop a method to keep it all streamlined and organized, especially with the broad spectrum of digital tools at our fingertips.

Take a moment to consider the priorities in your life - from relationships to hobbies and careers - and notice the amount of time and energy that's invested in each. Then consider any areas that may be challenging - whether it's due to lack of time or complicated logistics (or possibly both) - and strategize a way to simplify and develop a system to sustain this focused organization. Sometimes, a little more effort up front will enable you to save innumerable frustrating moments in the future. If that's not enough to convince you, keep in mind the repercussions of clutter and confusion in the realm of health and the added stress that manifests as a result of neglecting it all.

Sleep Deprivation and Potential Long-Term Risk Factors 

Sleep on the plane has always been a no-go for me, as it happens to be one of my most productive venues. Provided the caffeine keeps flowing, the winning combination of turbulence, crying babies, and leg cramps helps propel me into a fervor that I typically only achieve occasionally in the comfort of my office. The problem is, many of my flights are of the red-eye variety, putting me inadvertently in a sleep deficit I couldn't compensate for.

I had noticed irritability flare up at the strangest times, coupled with a low-level, ongoing anxiety. My short-term memory had become unreliable at best, which caused an array of challenges that seemed to pile up in daily life.

Alarm Clock

Apparently, sleep deprivation isn't just an inconvenience as I’d previously thought. What I had been experiencing is its marked affect my performance, namely my ability to think clearly, react rapidly, and even form memories, that's without mentioning its obvious adverse affect on my mood.

After a bit of research, I found that lack of quality sleep increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Not getting enough sleep actually prohibits the body's ability to strengthen the immune system. This put me squarely in the sleep-debt column, with an increased risk of getting sick, as well at a higher risk of chronic illness.

This wake-up call was necessary for me to realize the importance of rest. I found that limiting my exposure to electronic devices after nightfall really helped, and when I couldn’t avoid it, enabling or installing an app like F.lux or Night Shift can change the glaring blue cast of the display to a less antagonistic warmer tone.

I also realized that lack of exercise was contributing to my insomnia. I woke up tired, relied on caffeine, and many times was too busy to get in any amount of productive sweat during my day. I was completely wired by dusk, and couldn’t shut off. My circadian rhythm had been upended.

My strategy to change it back was simple - I rose as early as possible (excruciating at first), made sure to exert energy in a physical form throughout the day (a walk, a workout, a run), and tried to wind down soon after the sunset (phone and tablet usage minimized). Natural balance seemed to return when I observed these simple behaviors, along with increased cognitive performance, more energy, and an overall better outlook on life.

Like many other young professionals, we’re driven to perform - but sometimes, slowing down and resting actually may help us become more productive. As a rather significant bonus, our quality of life overall improves drastically across the board.