In my work for OneRoof, Inc. We have just launched a very cool new feature of our CyberCafePro software for managing public access computers, local advertising. This engine is designed to allow cafes, libraries, telecentres and business centers to engage with their community by selling advertising through their computer screens. Local businesses get a chance to promote their goods and services to a perfectly targeted and captive audience. We designed this short video to explain how it works in easy terms.
A new way for cyber cafes to make money and support local businesses
1. Yoga/exercise ball - Large
This is a total life saver. It serves three key functions. First to rock the baby to sleep in the first 6 months prior to sleep training. Second to roll the baby on it on his tummy while you hold him. And last as a computer chair. We don’t have room for one of the over priced and ugly gliding rockers in our place so the yoga ball is the best $20 we have ever spent.
2. Woombie Swaddler
Only the hospital nurses seem to be able to use a blanket swaddle that doesn’t allow the baby to escape in 4 seconds. If you are like most mortals you will buy one of he velcro swaddles or some other “swaddle for dummies” product. We have tried them all. The problem with the velcro swaddlers is that they wear out pretty quickly and in order to get them tight enough you need to limit the baby’s movement too much which can be damaging to their development. The Woombie solves all this by using a stretchy material and smart design giving just the right balance of snug and movement.
3. DSLR Camera
A must have if you actually plan on documenting your child’s life. It doesn’t really matter if you are a Nikon or Canon guy, just having a good camera to capture great images is huge. Take the time to do some research and learn how to actually take good pictures with it by using the advanced features and you will be rewarded with awesome images you can share, print and save.
4. Flip Video HD
Most of the new DSLR cameras are doing video now but having a small flip video is essential for quick, easy and convenient. You don’t always want to drag out the big DSLR or video camera when your kid is acting cute or doing something you want to quickly capture. I have mine close at all times so I can easily start shooting without having to think about it. It is also great for people that don’t understand video editing and want to easily share with friends and family. Additionally it is an easy albeit limited software solution for the unfortunate people not using a mac.
5. Content Management & Storage System
I know this is terminology usually used for website management but between pictures and video you will have so much digital content for your kid you really need both software and a couple of smart workflows to handle and actually do something with any of it. At the very least buy a couple of external hard drives, one to store and one just to back up everything. I use two Drobos just because I am sort of anal about redundant back up. To give you an example of one of my work flows I have an apple script that creates a folder structure for me for each one of my imports. I insert my card from the camera, copy the raw originals to a folder, then import into my Aperture library, export two different size jpg versions into separate folders and then stack and rate each photo. I make sure I have at least two copies of everything from the card before to erasing it. All this prior to editing a thing.
6. Mac Computer - Any
PC just doesn’t come close to providing the creative tools that are standard on a mac. The iLife suite alone can provide 95% of people everything they need to manage and share content. The ability to make books, order prints, easily edit and make movies then master a DVD make mac the only smart choice for dads. If you are a die hard windows/pc guy, I am sorry, you are wrong and need to switch.
7. Be Prepared, A Practical Handbook for New Dads
This is an awesome book. Funny, clever and brilliantly illustrated and provides a truly well researched and amazing wealth of information. I have used so many tricks and tips from this book I end up showing the book to every new dad I meet. Don’t ask, just order it on Amazon.
8. Wireless headphones
If you don’t want your TV, Movie or Sports watching to completely end then this is a required purchase. Unless you have a huge house with a man cave you can disappear to without any noise making it to the baby’s room then you will need a way to keep the decibel level below the wake the baby level. With a good set of wireless headphones you can crank up the action movies and still enjoy the loud explosions without disturbing the entire household.
9. A Good Play Gym
And lots of interchangeable toys. While this is pretty much standard equipment for babies, the amount of time your baby spends playing in it pushes this to the top 10 list. Having lots of changeable hanging toys ensures they are stimulated and don’t get bored (and they do).
10. A Sense of Humor
If you don’t have one you will burn out quickly and destroy your household, seriously. You have to find things like getting peed on or projectile baby poop funny. You have to accept that your sleep patterns will change and unexpected things will happen. If you can’t laugh at most of it then you will end up just being angry and annoyed most of the time. Nobody wants to live that way so just learn to enjoy your baby vs fighting all the changes he brought.
I really have a problem with poorly brewed and bad tasting coffee. Most places just don't care about the basics. Below are my top things that most places just don't pay any attention to. While I am not a complete coffee snob as I do enjoy cheap coffee as much as expensive stuff, I just wish they would take care in doing it somewhat right.
- Water - Seriously, 99% of the taste is dependent on good water. Using tap water is simply unforgivable. Use filtered water, preferably double or triple filtered. If you want to taste the coffee and not the chemicals and minerals in the water then please filter it. There is nothing more disappointing than sitting down to a nice breakfast and being served tap water coffee. Disgusting.
- Temperature - This is critical. Coffee should be brewed at about 200 degrees (depending on your elevation). If it is cooler then you get a weak and underdeveloped taste, if it is too hot then you get over bitter taste. Good coffee shops and home brewers should have a liquid thermostat in use for this.
- Grind - This is dependent on the type of coffee maker you use. For example, an urn vs a drip or French press. Too course a grind gives you an under extracted flavor and too fine can clog up your machine. Consistency of the grind is important for uniform taste and a quality brew. The best grinders are conical burr grinders then wheel burr followed by the cheaper blade grinders. Generally it is worth the investment if you want a grinder that produces uniform grounds. Good coffee shops grind their beans per cup. Good restaurants will at least grind a pot at a time. Most public coffee is pre-ground and tends to be stale depending on the volume they sell.
- Filter & Extraction - This can be subjective. I enjoy coffee filtered a few different ways but most places don’t even know there are any options outside of paper. Paper to me is a last resort. Many paper filter brands seem to add a stale cardboard element to the taste. Metal filters, french presses, etc. provide a well extracted flavor but can add a harshness or even metallic flavor element. I prefer drip extraction through a high quality cloth filter. While it is messier, it truly gives the best flavor.
- Starbucks - For duping the entire world population into believing that over roasted and strong equals quality. Friends don’t let friends drink Starbucks.
The Dr. Says it is normal and it grows back but maybe modern science has a faster solution.
Green screen shoot today. Fun. Had to set up our own screen because the green screen cove in the client's studio isn't the right color and won't produce a good key.
In this tutorial I show you how to create a brick wall from scratch in photoshop using a pattern so you can replicate a wall to any size, shape or color you need.
In this tutorial I show you a method for creating a brick wall from scratch using photoshop.
Some of you may know I have been training in the afternoons at the Pixel Corps learning video production. As part of this process I am diving into Final Cut, Motion, Logic, Soundtrack Pro, and more. Since I know Photoshop inside and out I figured I would get to know the programs above by using them to create photoshop tutorials. Great subject matter since I never run out of things to demonstrate in Photoshop. So look for a lot of these to come. I promise the production quality will improve as I learn Final Cut and Motion.
This first one is a tutorial to show how to place an image onto a surface and match both the perspective and texture. This primarily uses Vanishing Point and the Displacement filters and a good way to begin to learn both of these tools. Enjoy.
This tutorial gives you an example of how to use the Vanishing Point and Displacement filters in Photoshop to place an image onto a surface with perspective and match the texture so it looks realistic.
I have officially changed the way I shop, permanently. No longer will I accept a retail experience that is underwhelming. There are too many alternatives now. As a matter of fact, not only am I voting with my dollar, I am voting with it while shopping in your store. Instead of paying $49.95 for a computer book in Borders or Barnes & Noble I am now thumbing through it in the store while purchasing it from the Amazon app on my iPhone for $26. And I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it.
This past weekend pushed me to what I now feel is my standard shopping methodology. I spent two hours in Babies R Us shopping from a list of items we needed. It was a horrible experience, horrible. With a new baby it takes planning to load the car, drive to the store, get the baby in and out of the car seat then complete your shopping. I don’t need the shopping experience adding stress to it. To start the aisles were cramped and only a single cart could fit at a time so it was almost impossible to get near the items you wanted to look at. Next, we needed a host of basic baby consumables and out of our list, most were out of stock. Seriously, it is a baby store, supposedly a super store and they are out of stock on popular consumable items? That is like the grocery store running out of ice, milk and eggs. Of course most of the items on our registry were out of stock so we substituted and they wouldn’t give us the 10% off of any non registry item. Then I realized, I don’t need to put up with any of this. I can buy stuff cheaper on Amazon or other online stores and it comes to me. No more fighting the crowds, no more out of stock issues, no more arguing over what qualifies for the discount, items come to me, easy. But what about the satisfaction of getting it now? Who cares, it isn’t worth it unless I really need it right this second.
For me, most retail stores have just become a place for me to touch and feel a product as part of my research prior to buying. Unless they give me a compelling price or reason or to buy from them I will order it from somewhere else while shopping in their store. One of my new best friends is the Red Laser app for iPhone. It locks the camera on the UPC of an item and spits out the price on several online sites immediately and allows me to purchase from any of them directly in the app. Awesome!
While I understand the state of the economy has been very damaging to retailers I think many are dying from additional self inflicted wounds. I simply don’t get why every retail chain or store isn’t delivering the best consumer experience possible. There is really no excuse for it. With so many high quality unemployed people available today not only should every store have top notch staff but they should be focusing all of their efforts on making the customer want to spend time and money in their environment. Yet, it doesn’t happen.
So what should they be doing? Simple, in a word, innovate. Not just technology, but the start to finish consumer experience. Companies need to realize that shopping doesn’t begin and end when a customer enters and leaves a store. There are too many competitive distractions, disruptive technologies and better experiences pulling on the consumer than ever before. And more important we have become aware of these choices. No longer can stores assume they are a destination when alternative distribution is only a mouse click or tap of a mobile screen away. Mass niche is here. I don’t need to experience a super store staffed with unknowledgeable and poorly managed teenagers when I have the collective wisdom of hundreds of thousands of parents online to inform me about the product I am interested in. Companies need to extend the tentacles of their reach through training, touch points, and consumer habit research to innovate in an age where consumer loyalty is dead along with customer service. They need to execute on so many more levels than the old school retail thinking predicts.
For now I am happy ruining all of the poorly executed and outdated retail models armed with technology and choice.
The release of iTunes 9 adds a significant set of new features and a refreshing look and functionality to the store yet with every new release I still find myself wanting more. I do have to concede they are trying to tackle one of my biggest complaints about digital music and that is the loss of the album experience. The iTunes LP feature in is attempting to bring this back but only time and selection will decide if it is successful. Genius continues to improve and is at a point where I feel it satisfies my mix needs to a Pandora level. So what do I have to complain about? What is missing? Plenty.
The biggest thing I want to see from Apple is a true discovery engine that is driven by peers. Social integration in iTunes can take music discovery to a whole new level if they properly integrate it. While genius mixes are attempting to provide this service it is still missing that hand sell element you get from a social human. I would love to know what 60% of the people that have 80% in common with my library or selected parts of it are listening to that I am not. But if Apple really wants to produce the ultimate application they need to mix the podcast engine with the music. What I mean by this is simple. Imagine if anyone could produce their own radio show on iTunes, using any song available from iTunes and then anyone could subscribe to it and purchase songs. Imagine being able to record your commentary, drag and drop songs from the iTunes store into the timeline and then push it live for people to listen to in iTunes. One of the few good things radio has to offer is the hosts ability to introduce music and artists through commentary, background information and more. I would love to record my own show and play songs I love for reasons I want people to know. And yes, I expect them to pay for the songs if they don’t already own them. Of course the problem is that it only works for streaming content unless Apple is willing to launch an all you can eat subscription service and even then they would probably have to battle huge rights issues. The new twitter and facebook social integration with iTunes is a pretty blunt tool and falls short of what it could be.
While I was happy with the new iPhone application sorter to make syncing easier there still is much work to be done to improve it and I was disappointed the app store hasn’t seen any significant organizational changes other than a facelift. It would be nice not only to just drag and drop your apps onto the chosen screens but Apple should have provided easy category organization. I would like to be able to choose my home screen apps then have iTunes automatically put all of my games on one page, utilities on another, social apps and other categories on their own pages. It would be even cooler to have iTunes examine your apps and recommend smart or proximity organization. For example, the Yelp app works great next to the Open Table app.
Also missing from this upgrade is some much needed changes to the app store organization and navigation. I hate the fact that you can’t sort apps by rating but only by popularity or release date or best sellers. I want to be able to sort by number of ratings, average rating or be able to select my sort criteria. It used to be easy to find cool new apps on the store in the beginning, now with so many apps I feel it is more like a hunting exercise.
Last I would like to see better utilities built into iTunes for organizing and managing your library. I have become insanely obsessive about trying to complete information about each song from artwork to album, title, artist, genre, etc. Maybe iTunes could harness the collective power of thousands of libraries to examine my collection and round out my meta data. It would also be very nice if you could build your own iTunes LP for a collection of songs. For example, maybe I have the entire Beatles collection in my library and want to build my own digital extras for the White Album from information I collect.
iTunes 9 is a solid step forward and there still is no better tool for managing your music than iTunes but it can be better, it can evolve, it still has the potential to change everything we know about experiencing and managing content.
I was thinking about the state of marketing today and how the internet and technology have changed the game so much. It struck me how many similarities I could draw between modern marketeers and hackers. Think about it, hackers spend their time finding ways to get into and around systems so they can control or disrupt either for financial gain or conquest. Marketers are doing the same thing but through hacking consumers. We have gotten so good at ignoring them but every safe haven we find becomes a temporary escape.
Early television and cable made us watch our shows at a specific time and with big budget advertising so of course we started using our VCRs as one of the earliest methods of time shifting. This evolved into the DVRs we have today so the threatened advertisers and marketers devised clever ways to get us to watch some of the commercials instead of fast forwarding. They brought their message into the shows and started to drain purity through overt product placements. They teased us to stay tuned for exclusive content peeks during commercial breaks. So what did we do? We found downloading, bit torrents and other means to avoid advertising. Again, the marketers realized this and gave us Hulu, Joost and streaming content in high quality with easy access and plugged in just enough advertising so we would accept it as an easier alternative to illegally downloading and dealing with the difficulties of ripping, torrents and the like.
Remember the good times of social networking? The time before every company and brand realized we were all ignoring them by disappearing into our online social groups and only talking about them if we felt like it. I loved the days when social networking was all about friends, colleagues and connections, before the marketing machines infiltrated our ranks asking us to become a fan and share their message with all of our friends. I can’t go a day now without being asked to become a fan of something, join some cause, or follow some company on Twitter.
I use friendfeed so can avoid and parse the information I want to see from friends and avoid much of the advertisers and marketing clutter so of course Facebook bought friendfeed and I assume will assimilate them into the Borg collective soon.
They keep chasing us, we keep trying to run to a place where we can access them only when we want and on our terms and of course let them have access to us in doses we desire. What is next? How will they infiltrate us now? I think they are starting to get to me out of pure exhaustion of having to manage too many filters, levers and switches. It is super tiring to set up subscriptions and preferences for those subscriptions along with groups and content filters for everything online I feel like being a part of. Maybe that is how they will get us, by making us all too tired of running. Of course advertisers are like terminators now too. They are finally figuring out we won’t deal with them unless we smell an actual person on the other end. And while I like the fact we have started to win the battle of forcing them to actually engage directly with their customers I hate the fact it gives them yet another access point we enjoyed freedom from for a time.
Then again maybe this is the biggest victory of all, the fact that we, the consumer are now in control and they can no longer tell us otherwise for fear of the online PR nightmare we can unleash at anytime.
So have we finally won? Don't count on it, the battle will go on as long as brands and consumer exists. All that has shifted is a level of control.