A Newtek Minute, with Justin Holman

For this month’s edition of A Newtek Minute, we had the good pleasure of speaking with Las Vegas video blogger and cigar aficionado Justin Holman, of Las VegASH TV.

Justin, who is a web application developer by day, gives us a little insight on how he finds time for Las VegASH TV, the importance of being passionate about the content you create, and why he chooses to host his—and his clients’—websites with us.

Justin Holman

Justin Holman

Newtek Technology Services: Justin, thanks for talking with us. Why don’t we start by you telling us a little about yourself. I see from the bio on your website that not only are you a reviewer of fine cigars, but you’re also a web application developer. What inspired you to pursue a career in development?

Justin Holman: I grew up a kid of the 80s and loved shows like Knight Rider, MacGyver, and Star Trek. I was always interested in technology and for the things it could do. I started programming in jr. high with Logo and then in high school moved into BASIC. Most of the kids thought it was a blow off class, but one guy, Peter Geller, was also a smart guy, and really wanted to learn how to program. We were going to be assigned to groups of three for a final project. Peter and I went to our teacher, Rod Stuffle, and asked if we could team up. He said sure, but you have to really wow me. I don’t remember the exact project, but we ended up creating a slot machine using Basic on Apple IIe and he loved it. We got an A.

I did some other cool stuff in high school like newspaper pagination and I was the first one to work with digital video. I was the camera man and graphics guy for our daily news program. I created some fun opening and closing credits. I also created end of year goodbyes from the Seniors. I used HyperCard to create a cool opening for the high school bands’ Night at the Movies event.

NTS: What platforms, frameworks, or programming languages do you typically work with.

JH: After high school I worked for a small startup and I got started with ColdFusion. My boss, Jeff Stewart, was a great teacher. One thing I still keep in my head to this day is his advice to use the best tool for the job. Now I have moved on to the Microsoft stack. At first I was doing desktop software in Visual Basic 3 – 6, then moved to Microsoft.NET. These days I focus on ASP.net MVC 2 and Objective-C. I have been working on my iPhone/iPad app and really enjoy the language and tools that Apple has. I have always been a fan of Apple technology.


NTS: How did Las VegASH TV come about?

JH: I got started doing cigar reviews with some friends about 3 years ago. That was a lot of fun. It was really odd talking to yourself while a camera is pointed at you, but you get used to it. A friend in Vegas, JC, wanted to help revive the cigar scene in Las Vegas, so a little over 2 years ago we started Las VegASH TV.

NTS: You also own a consulting company, Elantrics. Tell us a little about that.

JH: I started Elantrics in college, the guy who introduced to me to cigars came up with the name. Elan means long or tall and trics sounded techy. I started that because I was doing some freelance work and having the business to write off expenses was nice too. I keep it around for my freelance work in addition to a full time day job.

NTS: I think a lot of us out there who juggle a “day job” with blogging understands that it’s a bit of a challenge. How do you manage to juggle the two and do you have any advice for anyone out there that might be thinking about starting their own blog or review site.

JH: Sometimes it’s not easy to. With Las VegASH TV, there is more time involved since it is a video based site. I tend to work at night on personal and client projects and I am usually smoking a cigar. I just turn on the camera and hit record. It works out pretty good and I am able to get two things done at once.

I think if you want to blog, do it. It does not matter what the content is, but it should be something that you are passionate about. Make sure the content is real and is something you can stand behind. Today with great smartphones, like the iPhone, you can update your blog anytime and from anywhere. They say content is king and that is true.

Just remember to always be honest in what you say and in the case of a review site, cite where you got your product from. It does not matter if you bought the product, was sent it on a loan or it was sent to you to keep, you MUST always review it honestly. I will never accept money for a review. All I ask for is a few cigars and in return they get an honest review, good or bad.

NTS: How long have you hosted at Newtek/CrystalTech?

JH: I have been with CrystalTech for over 7 years. A friend introduced me to your company and I have never looked back. I have at least 8 clients using your hosting and recommended you to everyone. Every time I have to use another hosting companies control panel, I cringe and wish they were all as easy as yours. It is easy to find things, change things and know what is going on. Even simple things like going to http://mail.YourDomain.com to access email via the web, other sites don’t do.

NTS: Why did you initially choose us, and why have you stayed?

JH: I choose you because I trusted my friend and the company I was with had not changed anything in years. They were also triple the cost of CrystalTech for much less. Their homepage had not even changed in over 2 years.

I stay with you because uptime is great, the range of services that are offered are great, and priced right. CrystalTech is always improving what they offer and listen to their customers. Tech support is 100% FANTASTIC. Any issue I have is solved within 5 minutes either by phone or online chat. There is another company that claims to be fanatical about support, but I think CrystalTech embodies this very well.

NTS: Final question. I have $15 dollars in my pocket. Which cigar?

JH: There is no easy answer to that question. There are so many great cigars out there. People new to cigars think that the higher the price, the better the cigar. That is not true at all. It really depends on your tastes and what you like to smoke. There are so many great brands like Fuente, CAO, Puros Indios, H. Upmann, La Flor Dominicana and many more. There are also some really bad ones too. The best advice I can give is to go to a REAL cigar shop and talk to the the person working there. If you are a new cigar smoker they can help with a recommendation.

NTS:  Thanks, Justin.  And thank you, readers, for joining us for this month’s A Newtek Minute.  Have any questions or comments?  Be sure to leave them below.

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