Archive for Mike Gdovin

Six Ways to Extend The Life of Your Computer

Computers are great tools, but no matter how fast and “tricked out” they may be when they are new, they will eventually become too slow. After years of use, computers become slow both from use and from the increase in system resources required for newer software. Sure, computers aren’t nearly as expensive to replace as they once were, but it is also very possible to resuscitate a slower old computer. All it takes is a little time and possibly some money, but  it can make an ailing computer like new or even better! Most of these recommendations aren’t very difficult to do, and many can be accomplished by end users. These tips work both on all computer Windows, Mac, Linux, etc, however, because of certain hardware designs, certain Macs may not be eligible for all these upgrades.

1. Run A Cleaner Program Regularly:

Computers accumulate temporary files, cookies, application caches and  old  files that are no longer relevant. Most programs have a way to clear the temporary file, especially web browsers, but  users would have to dig into each application individually. Cleaning programs like the ever popular, free program, CCleaner, make it easy to delete any temporary files and other unneeded files across the entire system. CCleaner also has an application uninstaller, although most applications either have an uninstaller or can be uninstalled via the user’s operating system, however CCleaner is more thorough. Many times, applications leave files behind on users’ hard drives, which CCleaner will find and remove completely. Running a program like CCleaner regularly, will make keep one’s computer run faster and prevent some issues.

2. Uninstall Unneeded Programs:

If there are programs that never get launched, or came with the computer that are never going to be used, consider uninstalling them. Use an uninstaller program like CCleaner, mentioned above, to free up system resources. Another good program is PC Decrapifier, which can go through an mass-remove programs it identifies as junk. By keeping only the necessary programs, system resources are freed up and keep the computer running faster and make more hard drive space available for user information.

3. Reformat and Reinstall

If the first two tips don’t provide enough of a speed boost, then one may want to consider reformatting their system completely. First, backup all data to a flash drive or external hard drive, as doing this will complexity erase the user’s hard drive.  Then either insert the system restore disks, if they came with the system, or boot into the recovery partition using the function keys at the boot screen, see user manual). Newer Macs can be booted into a special recovery mode that will downloads Mac OS over the internet and install it without recovery media.  Doing this will reset the computer to be like new and can help to clear out a lot of issues, including viruses. Personally, I like to do this every year or so just get a fresh start and rebuild my system for optimal performance.

4. Upgrade the RAM:

Upgrading the RAM is a very affordable and straightforward way to significantly increase a computer’s performance. Crucial offers a memory finder tool allowing users to search their computer model to find the type of RAM it uses. It also will tell one the maximum amount of RAM that particular model will recognize. Crucial does sell RAM, but I recommend copying and pasting the amount of RAM into Newegg or another site, as Crucial is very expensive. Upgrading RAM can greatly increase a computer’s speed, for example, if a machine has 512 MBs of RAM and can take 2 GB, that can theoretically quadruple a computer’s speed.  Performing a RAM upgrade is typically a very simple process, only requiring taking out a couple screws. It is worth noting however, that many Macs are much more difficult to upgrade due to the new unibody design.

5. Replace Standard Hard Drive with Solid State Drive:

Solid state hard drives offer a significant performance, since solid state drives, or SSDs, use flash memory instead of the spinning platters used by standard hard drives. Flash memory is significantly faster and provides much faster boot times and faster performance overall. SSDs are more expensive than standard, spinning hard drives, but in my opinion, the speed boost is worth it! Combining a SSD upgrade with a full operating system reinstall will yield a very significant speed boost.

6. Replace the Battery for Laptops:

In the case of most computers, the battery won’t last the life of the computer, especially for users who frequently uses their battery. The lithium-Ion battery that are used in laptops have a set number of charge/discharge cycles, meaning once the battery has been charged and discharged that many times, the battery needs to be replaced. Batteries can be found on Amazon or other sites online by simply searching for the laptop brand and model with the word “battery”.  There are often two options when choosing a battery, the standard capacity and  the high capacity that has a longer life, which are often not flush with the case and heavier. Sometimes, it has a little extra “kick stand” just adding height, while other times it is larger.  However, for those who prefer longer battery life and don’t mind some extra size and weight, high capacity batteries are a good option. Once again, this is not possible on Apple laptops and if a battery needs to be replaced, it needs to be taken to an Apple Store or Authorized Apple Repair Center.

While no piece of electronic equipment lasts forever, these tips can help a computer last a while longer before a computer needs to be replaced. This is helpful when new processors or other new technologies are about to come out to hold oneself over with their current computer, until computers with the new technology comes out.

WWDC 2013 Summary

WWDC2013

Image Courtesy of Apple Inc.

Wow, Apple really delivered on Monday at their WWDC keynote! Over half of the rumored announcements were announced on stage! I will go through all the announcements and explain what they mean to Apple’s millions of users.

 

Mac OSX Mavericks

Image Courtesy of Apple Inc.

After the obligatory store opening video, sales figures for the past year,  and a shaky, but cool, iOS-powered, AI stock car demonstration, that Apple starts every keynote with, the firsts announcements were with Mac OSX. Apple started by announcing that the future versions of Mac OS will be named after famous place in California, since they are running short on big cat names and are dedicated to the future of the Mac, great to hear! The new version of Mac OSX, called Mavericks, is clearly focused on power users, who have been ignored for the most part by Apple, in recent years.  Mavericks features a tabbed finder window allowing users to combine multiple finder windows into one and easily move files between them. The tabbed Finder also lets users have different view modes in each tab, it also adds tagging to the file browser to make finding files much easier. Tags appear on the finder sidebar and allows users to use advanced searching techniques to find files they need easily.

Mavericks also provides some much need enhancements to multiple displays, allowing the dock and menu to appear on each display and full-screen applications no longer interfere with other displays and lets users run multiple full-screen applications on multiple displays. Users can also switch Spaces on each display independently from the other screens. Mavericks allows users to use a HDTV with an Apple TV as a full HD display for their Mac. OSX Mavericks also has a lot of “under-the-hood” technologies to better utilizes system resources and power. Mavericks optimizes CPU and memory usage to minimize amount of system resources that are inactive, cutting down on load time and making the Mac more responsive for the users.

Mavericks has a greatly enhanced Safari, adding a new sidebar containing bookmarks, reading list and shared links for links shared by people followed on Twitter and LinkedIn. Safari also takes advantage of some of Mavericks speed enhancements, delivering information even faster and using less memory. The new OSX also takes Keychain, Apple’s Password management tool, and takes it to the cloud to sync them across devices. It is secure, using 256 bit AES encryption, and syncs web logins, credit card information, account information and WiFi passwords much like LastPass.

Mavericks packs major Notification Center enhancements, with the ability to respond to email, messages and facetime requests right from the notification. iOS App notifications can also appear on your Mac screen and notifications appear on the lock screen, it is not mentioned if this is done via iCloud, Bluetooth, WiFi or some other technology. Finally, Mac Apps updates can now install automatically!

The calendar in Mavericks has a much cleaner user interface, away from the skeuomorphic, leather design of years past. It adds enhanced location suggestions based on location, automatically adding travel time for appointments, even sending the user a notification of when they need to leave. It also adds weather information for appointments. OSX also has the now infamous Apple maps with flyover, points of interest and the ability to send directions directly to an iPhone or iPad.  iBooks also is coming to Mac OS with full iCloud integration much how Kindle has WhisperSync to sync across devices. Mac OSX Mavericks will launch in the Fall, developers get a preview copy now! It looks like a fantastic update for the power users and end users alike!

Image Courtesy of Apple Inc.

Image Courtesy of Apple Inc.

As expected, Apple announced new Macbook Airs featuring Intel’s new Haswell processors and all-day battery life. It also has 802.11 AC, the newest wireless networking standard, the new Macbook Airs do not however offer a Retina display as rumored. The new Macbook Airs are shipping today, shipping at the same prices as the previous models but both featuring larger solid state hard drive than the previous entry-level Macbook Air.

Airport Extreme

Image Courtesy of Apple Inc.

Along with the new Macbook Airs, Apple released a new Airport Extreme routers and Time Capsules with 802.11 AC and Beamforming for enhanced throughput, all in a brand new rectangular design.

Mac Pro

Image Courtesy of Apple Inc.

Apple gave a sneak peak of the highly anticipated new Mac Pro, featuring a brand new cylindrical design. It is built around a thermal core and features a 12-core Intel Xeon Processor, ultra fast flash storage, 2 Thunderbolt 2 ports for 20 GBps transfers and the only real expansion port on the device. It has Duel AMD graphics cards that can support multiple 4K displays, Apple said the Final Cut Pro team is already hard at work on a new version of Final Cut Pro X to support this new high resolution output. This was only a preview and the final product is scheduled to be released towards the end of this year, but at least pro users know they have something coming. The brand new design packs a lot of power, so hopefully it will give the high-end pro users what they have been waiting for.

The final Mac-related announcement was the first iWork update since 2009. iWork for iCloud allows users to edit iWork documents in web browsers both Macs and Windows computer, much like Google Drive and Office 365. iWork for iCloud give full editing capabilities in Safari, Google Chrome and even Internet Explorer with a wide range of editing tools. It also supports editing Microsoft Word documents, an iWork first! Much like many of the other announcements, it will be in developer beta starting now, and public beta will come later this year.

iOS7

Image Courtesy of Apple Inc.

iOS 7 was the biggest announcement of the keynote, it has a completely redesigned user interface featuring a flatter, non-skeuomorphic design. iOS 7 has parallax movements meaning the phone moves as the screen moves with it, creating a 3D effect. iOS 7 lets users have multiple pages of apps within folders and can put that pesky Newstand icon  in a folder, without super fast finger or jailbreaking. iOS’ default mail app took a page from popular Gmail client, Mailbox integrating swipe gestures to its user interface in addition to a brand new flat user interface. Notification center is now translucent and now features 3 tabs for Today (notifications from today), All and Missed notifications and is now available from the lock screen. Control center gives users quick access to settings like Do Not Disturb and Bluetooth everywhere, including the lock screen and even includes a flashlight!

Apple completely overhauled its multitasking interface, now allowing all apps to multitask and replacing the old multitasking bar with a card-like interface similar to Microsoft Metro. iOS 7 analyzes usage to effectively update information without draining power and system resources, and even goes as far as learning the schedule users open certain apps to know when is the best time to update information .

iOS apps will also update automatically just like in OSX Mavericks, once again this can be turned off. Safari was completely redesigned as well with redesigned tabs, and the addition of iCloud Keychain and shared links. The redesigned photos app now can use location data and time stamps to automatically  organize pictures into moments and has some photo stream sharing enhancements including the addition of videos to photo stream. Photos also can be see all at once in a new zoomed out view.

Siri will get a much needed redesign and a new less robotic female voice and a new male voice. Siri can also control the phone operations and can access Twitter, Wikipedia and Bing. Siri for cars also added some new functionality allowing dictation and controls through cars and the addition of several new manufacturers supporting Siri in their cars. There was, however, no mention of making Siri more reliable or accurate.

The iOS App Store, got a facelift, and can now filter search results on age range. Apps can also be suggested based on current location, which might be helpful in a few situations, like at a museum as show on stage, but isn’t incredibly helpful. Like OSX Macericks, the iOS7 App Store now automatically installs app updates, although I do believe this can be disabled if the user wants.

The new music app has a brand new user interface and has the much rumored iTunes Radio. iTunes Radio is a free, ad supported streaming music service offering hundreds of Pre-made stations and users can create their own station based on any song, artist or genre, much like Pandora, Spotify and other streaming music services. It will work on iOS 7, Macs and PCS using iTunes and Apple TV. iTunes Match users get ad-free streaming, which I think makes the $25 much more worthwhile.

iOS 7 also has FaceTime audio calls, notification sync across devices so notifications only need to be dismissed once! Activiation Lock is added to Find My Friends so lost or stolen iPhones can’t be activated or even reset without the owners Apple Account password.

iOS 7 really is the biggest improvement Apple’s mobile platform has ever seen and while a lot of the features have been on other mobile platforms and mobile apps, its great to see these great features integrated into iOS. This will however make it hard for certain app developers like flashlight apps, now that a flashlight is built into iOS 7 as well as Pandora and other streaming services now that Apple will offer its own.

Overall, this was an amazing keynote with all these great new products. The only things I would have liked to see was: a new iPhone and of course an earlier release of the new operating system. Overall, it was a great announcement and can’t wait for the release of all these great new products.

WWDC 2013 Predictions

Apple will hold it’s annual Worldwide Developers’ Conference on Monday.  Since  there hasn’t been a major product announcement since last October; there is speculated announcements for what seems to be Apple’s entire product line! Since it is not expected to be a 4 hour keynote, unlike other tech companies who will remain nameless, some of these announcements won’t happen at this event, if ever. Here’s my thoughts on the rumored announcements for this week’s upcoming event.

Mac:

  1. Macbook Airs/Macbook Pros– The rumor is that the Macbook Airs are sold out in many retail locations signaling an imminent upgrade. Intel also just released their new Haswell processors, so it would make sense for Apple put out a new machine featuring these faster processors. It is also widely rumored that the new Macbook Airs will be featuring a high-resolution retina display.
  2. Macbook Pro- The Macbook Pro is also rumored to be upgraded to feature the new Haswell processors and slimmer builds for the Retina models. There aren’t many other rumors regarding the Macbook Pros, but it is safe to assume the internal hardware will be updated.
  3. Mac Pros- The Mac Pro is long overdue for an upgrade, and it was confirmed by CEO Tim Cook that they are working on “a product for Mac Pro customers”. It is unclear whether or not that means it will be a new Mac Pro in it’s current design with upgraded hardware or if it is a different product all together, possibly a souped-up iMac. It is also very likely that the new Mac Pro or Mac Pro-esque product will be the existing product that Tim Cook pledged would be built entirely in the United States.  A developers’ conference would be the right place to launch the high-end product like the Mac Pro, but that was the case for the past 2 years.
  4. Mac OS 10.9- Apple announced its last version of the Mac operating system, Mountain Lion, last year at WWDC and it is likely they will be releasing a new version, code name Cabernet. The new features are rumored to be focused on power-users including a tabbed finder and a revised Safari browser. However, it is widely reported that engineers were taken off Project Cabernet to work on the redesigned iOS 7.

iPhone/iPad

  1. iOS 7- The new iOS 7 also may be unveiled at this event now under the design guidance of Johnathan Ive, after the departure of Scott Forstall last October. It is rumored that the skumorphic designs, such as the green felt table for game center, it will be replaced by a new flat user interface across the entire environment. It is also rumored to include AirDrop, Apple’s wireless file sharing technology already integrated into OSX. It is possible that this would just be a developers’ preview so they can start building their apps so they are ready when iOS7 goes public.
  2. iPhone 5s/iPhone 6- If they do release iOS 7, it is very likely that Apple will release new hardware to go along with it. It will most likely be a slightly improved iPhone 5s, as apposed to a brand new phone design. The 5S is rumored to have a faster processor, higher resolution screen, better camera, near field communication technology and possibly a fingerprint scanner, although that doesn’t seem likely to me.
  3. Cheaper iPhone- There have also been many rumors of a budget-friendly, plastic shelled, iPhone that would be more affordable, primarily for developing countries. I’m honestly not fully convinced that Apple will release a budget iPhone since they offer discounted previous models; including one that is free with contact. I don’t see them adding an additional budget-friendly model unless they are rethinking their pricing strategy.
  4. New iPad/iPad Mini Retina- I think iPad releases probably the least likely of the rumors. First of all it has been less that a year since the last iPad announcement, although that didn’t stop Apple last time. I think if they do refresh the iPads it will be mostly a performance bump and the addition of a retina display to the iPad Mini.

Other:

  1. Streaming Radio Service- It has been long rumored that Apple is working on it’s own streaming music service and recently has been reported that it has signed a deal with Sony and other record companies making this more likely. It is possible this will be integrated into the iOS 7 announcement but I think it could very possibly be it’s own event as this event is focused on developers and a streaming music service is more consumer-oriented.

After the event on Monday, I will have a complete summary of what happened and what new products were announced.

Klout: The Social Media Report Card

Klout DashboardSocial media isn’t just for sharing what you had for lunch anymore, it has become an essential marketing tool for small businesses and large enterprises alike to market their products and services. Why you may ask? Well, according to a study done last year, people on average spend 7 hours a day on social media which is more than the time spent on the phone, reading mail and e-mail combined, and since most social media sites are free, it is a highly cost-effective method of getting the word out about a business.

This is great however, how do you know your social media strategy is working? Maybe business will increase but keeping track of the impact of your social media strategy overall is a little difficult. While individual tools like Facebook Pages has usage data, it is more difficult to see how your strategy is doing overall across all the social media sites you use.

Klout help solve this problem by connecting some of the most popular social media sites and tracks engagement across all of them. Klout connects Facebook (both profiles and pages), Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Youtube, Tumblr, Blogger, WordPress.com, Last.FM, Flickr and Bing and based on the amount of engagement received on those sites, it gives you an “Klout influence score” from 1-100. It also shows what site is getting the most engagement and contributes most to the Klout score.  Klout has an account for personal users, those who may be freelancers, bloggers or single person businesses who want to track how they promote their products or services. It also has a business accounts for businesses small and large a like to gain insight into how to best promote their business using social media. While this free service may only rate social media strategies based on responses and not on other interactions, it still provides a single, easy to use dashboard to view a social media marketing strategy across many sites and determine how effective posts are in engaging the audience.

How to Backup Your Data…..and Never Lose Data Again

Everyone who has a computer, must  have a way to backup their data. Not only do they need to have copies of all their essential files up but, it needs to be regular and automatic in order to be effective.

What’s Not a Backup

A lot of people say oh, my files are backed up, but if it is not regular and automatic, there is a much higher risk of data loss. Some examples of bad backup strategies are:

  • “I copy my files to a flash drive/external hard drive every now and then”
  • “I burn my files to a CD/DVD when I remember”
  • “I email files to myself every now and then”

While these methods do create extra copies of files, they are not guaranteed to be the most recent, nor are they automatic relying on the person’s memory which may not be the most reliable when it comes to regularly backing up.

So if all those strategies are not good backups, what does it take to have a good backup? These are of course just my thoughts, but ensure that data is safe and I am proud to say, I have not lost data in very long time.

3-2-1 Backup

One of the most popular backup methodologies is the 3-2-1 backup. This method encourages using more than one backup and utilizing multiple types of media for backing up. So what does 3-2-1 mean?

3 copies of every file

Those files should be on at least 2 different mediums, whether online, external hard drives, flash drives, CD/DVDs, or any other storage mediums.

1 of those copies needs to be off-site in the event of fire, flood, theft or any other physical damage to your home or office, which could leave backups in that location just as vulnerable as your computer.

In my opinion, online backup is the best way to backup your data because it is off-site and very secure allowing users to encrypt their data so it can only be accessed by the user using an encryption key they create. But as the 3-2-1 strategy suggests, no single method is perfect and it is best to have more than one backup, using multiple types of media.

My Backup Strategy:

Personally, I use CrashPlan which is $50/year for unlimited data backup for my computer both the internal hard drive and external hard drives. In addition, I   have a secondary backup of all the data on my internal hard drive using Time Machine on my Macbook. All my documents are on Dropbox which offers 2 GBs of storage for free (and can be increased either by recruiting new users or by purchasing more space) so all those files are backed up on Crashplan, Dropbox and on my Time Machine Backup. I admit, I might be a a little extreme with my backups but, it is great to know that my data is safe in case the worst happens.

Backup Strategies: 

While my backup strategy may not work for everyone,  there are so many options for backing up and protecting your data.

External Hard Drive:

The most basic method of backing up data is setting up an external hard drive for automatic backups. Lifehacker has a great set of instructions on setting this up on both Windows computers and Macs using their respective built-in backup systems.

Online Backup:

My favorite method of backing up data is online backup. Online backup is great because the data is kept off-site, securely. So if there is a robbery, fire or other disaster, an external hard drive is just as vulnerable to damage as your computer. With online backup, you pay for the service either monthly or annually and data is automatically uploaded as files are created or change as long as the computer is connected to the internet. It also means that users don’t need to remember to connect your computer to an external hard drive in order to backup. The one disadvantage is those who have many large files, the initial backup may take weeks or months. However, the benefits of online backup when it comes to connivence and safety   There are many choices for online backup services, and I have used several different services over the years.

  • Backblaze: Backblaze is similar to Crashplan (see below) as far as features and price however,  it doesn’t have the option to external hard drives or friends’ computers.
  • Carbonite: Carbonite is probably the biggest name in online backup but, it has it’s limitations. The most basic plan is $60 per year, and it limits which file types it backs up and it only backs up data on the internal hard drive. For those who want to backup external hard drives,  will need to get the Plus account which is $100 per year and only is available to Windows users and to automatically backup video files, they will need a premium account which is $150 per year and once again only available to Windows users.
  • CrashPlan: CrashPlan is what I currently use to backup my data, it cost $60 per year for unlimited backup for a single computer including external hard drives. There is also a less expensive 10 GB backup plan and Family Plans that are better are a better price for 3 or more computers as well as multiple year options for extra savings. In addition to a strong online backup service, Crashplan can also backup to external hard drives and to computers of friends using Crashplan as well.
  • Mozy: Has a 50 GB backup plan and a 125 GB backup plan for $6 and $10 a month respectively, which for many users is more than enough storage space.  This works out to be slightly more than the Unlimited backup from Crashplan and does not offer all the advanced features Crashplan has. The other issue I had with Mozy was when I used it, granted this was several years ago, was the Mac version had a fair amount of bugs.

One of the other advantages of these backup services is because the data is backed up to the internet, it is accessible anywhere there is an internet connection and all the services listed above have mobile applications, making forgetting a file a thing of the past. Now, any file backed up is accessible from any web connected computer or mobile device.

Other Strategies:

Some people may be apposed to paying for online backup despite the enormous benefit however, backing up data is still important. They can automatically backup to an external hard drive as described above but off-site backup is still essential. There are however, other ways of having an offsite backup without paying for an online backup service.

This can be done by having two or more backup drives and rotating them out to a safe location. For example, leaving a backup drive at a friend’s house or in a bank safe deposit box. By backing up data to a drive and then putting it somewhere safe, your data will be safer than just backing up to a local external hard drive.

Another more affordible method of off-site backup is using the free Crashplan application as described above and backup to a friend’s computer that also has Crashplan installed. This takes less effort than swapping hard drives out every now and then. The problem with both solutions however, is they are limited to the size of the external drive or the friend’s computer. Online backup is still the best solution but, the most important thing is that all your important data is backed up and in multiple places.

Final Backup Tips:

  • There is no such thing as too many backups
  • Data Recovery from failed drives costs over $1,000 on average.
  • Hard Drives have a 13% failure rate annually- See Crashplan’s graphic of various media’s life span.- Choose your media wisely!
  • Backup everything, even if you don’t think you need- especially if you have unlimited backup, USE IT!
  • Once your backup plan is in place, you don’t really have to do anything and you have the peace of mind knowing your data is safe

Internship Journal Week 15- May 6- May 10

Monday: 5/6

DAY OFF- JOB INTERVIEW

 

Daily Total Hours: 0.00 Hours

 

Tuesday:  5/7

First thing we did was go to Staples to purchase a new hard drive that our Cinematorgrapher needed to take with him to a meeting to test some footage with the client’s editing system. We then dropped two other hard drives with footage off to a client in the city for a project we had been working on. I also checked a lighting kit back in and replaced a burnt out bulb from the kit.

 

Daily Total Hours: 7.87 Hours

 

Wednesday: 5/8

It was a slower day again, I checked in two wireless mics kits back that were out for rentals and put them away. I then setup a lighting test in the garage to prepare for a shoot in a couple weeks. I then put away some of the other equipment we had setup in the garage for another set of tests done earlier this week.

 

Daily Total Hours: 6.43 Hours

 

Thursday: 5/9

We spent much of the day getting ready for the shoot tomorrow which I won’t be able to attend because the grounds crew doesn’t want too many people of the field. So I pulled a lot of the equipment and loaded the truck they will be taking. We also tested out the Kulabyte streaming system for the two streaming jobs we having coming up next week and ran a test stream to make sure it’s ready.

 

Daily Total Hours: 7.85 Hours

 

Friday: 5/10

It was my final day of my internship. I started by finding a website that collects broken batteries for recycling because I had noticed there was a large box of dead batteries sitting in the office. I then did some green screen footage working in FinalCut just for some practice. We then went out to lunch to celebrate my last day. When we got back, we checked some audio equipment before it went out and then did some cleaning-up around the office.

 

Daily Total Hours: 5.62 Hours

 

Reactions: 

 

This internship has been great, I have learned so much from everyone at Allied Pixel and got to go on some awesome shoots! I learned a lot about video production as well as the business aspects of it.

 

Weekly Total Hours: 27.77 Hours

 

Grand Total Hours: 525.93 Hours

Internship Journal Week 14:4/29-5/3

Monday: 4/29

I first Re-tubed 3 lighting kits that we are going to take its us on shoot Wednesday, that we’re set for Fluorescent and need to now be tungsten for us to use with a green screen. I then pulled a lot of the other equipment we would need for Wednesday’s shoot and got some things ready to go. We then installed Davinci Resolve on one of the edit machines that can handle the software and began test it on the shots we got Friday. After a while, I had the opportunity to work with it on my own and I looked up some tutorials online to better understand it. It is a really powerful color correction program, it takes some getting used to and a very powerful machine to run it on but it is clear why it is the top of the Lin color-grading program.

 

Daily Total Hours: 8.05 Hours

 

Tuesday: 4/30

I spent most of the day pulling equipment and loading the truck for the shoot the following day. I also took apart a tripod rig to save some space in our equipment room. I also spent some more time learning its DaVinci Resolve and trying different things. I am going to try and find some tutorials online to learn he software because right now I am just playing around and seeing what happens.

 

Daily Total Hours: 7.8 Hours

 

Wednesday: 5/1

We started first by troubleshooting some issues we were having with the air conditioner in the server room, which I noticed was making a loud noise when I came in. We finished loading the truck and left for Astra-Zenica for our shoot. We loaded in the equipment and I helped setup lights and other equipment for the shoot. Once we had all the equipment set, the shoot went very fast and we finished ahead of schedule. We then struck the set, and loaded the truck back up and went back to the office. Once back, we unloaded the truck and I checked all the cables as well as the grip kit and put them away.

 

Daily Total Hours: 7.77 Hours

 

Thursday: 5/2

OFF- IN KUTZTOWN

 

Daily Total Hours: 0.00 Hours

 

Friday: 5/3

OFF- IN KUTZTOWN

 

Daily Total Hours: 0.00 Hours

Reactions: 

The most valuable experience was being able to play with and learn how to use DaVinci Resolve, which is a very expensive, high-end color correction system I probably would have to the opportunity to use on my own.  It was also a great learning experience going on the shoot on Wednesday and seeing another professional shoot in action.

 

Weekly Total Hours: 23.62 Hours

 

Total Hours to Date: 498.17 Hours

Internship Journal Week 13: 4/22-4/26

Monday: 4/22

It was a relatively slow day, I checked the audio equipment back in the that had been out most of the weekend and cleaned some equipment. We then spent much of the afternoon preparing for our shoot tomorrow and pulling gear and loading the truck.

 

Daily Total Hours: 7.55 Hours

 

Tuesday: 4/23

We met at the office and loaded a few final things and the electronics that we were charging overnight. We then headed over to Eastern University and brought equipment into the library where we were shooting the interview. I setup the lights and other equipment for the interview portion of the day. We shot the interview with a woman who is attending Masters classes at Eastern University and is planning on becoming a missionary and about her story of how she was called to her line of work. After the interview we got some shots of her around the library, putting away books and talking to other students. We struck all the equipment we didn’t needed for the exterior shots and then broke for lunch.  Then after lunch we shot exterior shots of her outside around campus. Then, we then struck the remaining equipment and loaded the truck up and left.

 

Daily Total Hours: 7.11 Hours

 

Wednesday: 4/24

We unloaded the equipment from the truck and then I checked lights, cable and other equipment that we had out it us and put it all away. After all that was taken care of, I disassembled our Black Magic Design camera rig and put the camera back in its box for storage. Finally, I researched where to find inexpensive external  hard drive online because we need to pick one up tomorrow for the client from yesterday to ship them the video files.

 

Daily Total Hours: 7.75 Hours

 

Thursday: 4/25

I spent much of the morning repairing broken BNC cables by cutting off the connectors and broken pieces of cables and then connecting new connectors. We then spent the afternoon going through and organizing some production stills they have collected over the years while looking for a picture of a operating teleprompter for a blog post that is going to be published on the company website.

 

Daily Total Hours: 7.85 Hours

 

Friday: 4/26

We started by reorganizing the garage a little and straightening out some of the gear. We then took the Black Magic Design camera out to Farmount Park and shot some footage of the Japanese house and some blossoming  flowers around it. We then brought it back and tried to look at the footage but realized our camera can’t handle 2.5k RAW footage. We also researched some new computer options  so we can view the raw footage and use DaVinci Resolve for color correction.

Daily Total Hours: 7.93 Hours

Reactions: 

The most exiting and valuable thing I did this week was the shoot at Eastern University, because it was a different production scenario than precious productions.

Weekly Total Hours: 38.23 Hours

Total Hours to Date: 474.55 Hours

Software Subscriptions: Way of the Future or Money Making Tactic?

When Microsoft unveiled their new Office suite earlier this year, they made significant changes to their Microsoft Office offerings.They eliminated all multi-license packs and  unveiled their new Microsoft 365 subscription offering.  Microsoft also increased the price of the single license purchase a fair amount by about $30 and can only be installed on a single machine. Finally, Office is no longer available on DVD but instead only as product key requiring users to download the trial from the the internet to install and activate with their product code.

Although Microsoft Office 365 sounds much more expensive $100 per year, it has some added value over traditional versions of Office. First, 365 can be installed on up to 5 computer and/or tablets Macs, PCs, and tablets, right now only Microsoft Surface tablet, but there is talk of iOS and Android versions coming soon. This is exciting for those who may have both Mac and Windows machines in their household or business because that subscription will cover both operating systems which previously would require two separate purchases.  The Home and Student version of 365 also includes Outlook, Publisher and Access while, the single license  of Home and Student only has Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Onenote. Probably the biggest advantage to the subscription is that subscribers get the newest version of Office at no additional charge which usually would be $100 at least to upgrade. As an added bonuses, Office 365 Subscribers get 60 minutes of Skype credit and 20 GB of Skydrive storage space for the primary users.

Microsoft isn’t alone in their subscription efforts, Adobe offers their Creative Suite as a monthly subscription in their Creative Cloud. This is great for the brief projects where someone may need Photoshop or After Effects for a couple months only, so instead of paying for over $1,000 for the Creative suite, they could just pay for the few months they need and save hundreds of dollars.  It seems like many more expensive applications are now moving towards a subscription model instead of a one-time purchase. This is beneficial, in that all the updates are free which, in high-end professional applications like Adobe Creative Suite cost hundred if not thousands of dollars to upgrade normally. However, many consumers might be caught in the sticker-shock of having to pay every month or every year as long as they want to use that software, which of course in the case of Microsoft Office is forever. However for those who want to buy a piece of software and keep it as long as possible it will seem much more expensive than a one-time purchase leaving consumers skeptical.

Personally, I was very skeptical of the Microsoft 365 subscription model thinking it was a just a way for Microsoft to make more money off the users, taking advantage of their practical monopoly over the Office Suite market. I have now realized that there is a value in this subscription model, forget about all the additional applications you may or may not use, the Skype credit and the Skydrive storage space, upgrading Microsoft Office typically costs around $100 per computer, of course it cost less when they offered Family packs for 3 computers. But now, with 365 for that $100 per year, you are getting 5 licenses for Mac or Windows, although Mac users are still getting Office 2011, but that includes any updates as long as the subscription is active, so when they release the next version for Mac, the update is included. Microsoft no longer has discounted upgrade pricing, so getting the newest version of Office requires re-purchasing Office all over again.  Of course many users don’t upgrade Office every time there is an upgrade.

This subscription model is also known as software as a service (SaS) and while it is new in the desktop software world, it is the norm in cloud computing. Take Google apps for example, for businesses to use the Google Apps suite, it is $5 per user per month, there is no one time purchase, it’s a service that is paid for as long as it needs to be used. Dropbox and other cloud-storage services are another great example, while they offer a certain amount of storage for free, if users need more storage, it is a monthly or annual fee as long as they want the premium service.

Office 365 also includes a cloud service called “Office on Demand” which allows you to “stream” Microsoft Office on any Internet connected Windows PC, sadly this is not yet available on Macs. So for those who may travel and have to use computers other than their own that may or may not have Office installed, 365 subscribers can simply use Office in their web browser without having to install it. The cloud is definitely going to be a big part of future application development maybe even over taking native desktop applications one day, but how many services will people pay for before they decide they are spending too much money each year on subscriptions?

My other big question was what about the App Store ecosystem that began on mobile devices and has now spread to our desktop operating systems? App Stores are the easiest way to buy and maintain our software collections in my opinion. What happens if the software ecosystem moves into more subscription-based and less one-time purchases? Well the easy answer is nothing, in fact, despite my initial concerns, I realized subscriptions might be beneficial to App Store users. Here’s why: users could download the free, limited version of the software and then if they want to get the full version they can subscribe using an in-app purchase every year or whatever the term of the subscription is. App stores will probably need to add some features to make this easier for the consumer and developers but that would give the added convience of the App Store to subscription-based software.

While software subscriptions may make consumers concerned about paying for their software every year and while it may be costly, it does have many benefits. Microsoft has already said that they expect within 10 years, Office 365 will be the only way people will be purchasing Microsoft Office. This could easily be a self-fulfilling prophecy if Microsoft were to discontinue the single license, one-time purchase versions of Office. This prediction will also be aided by the growth of the cloud and software as a service which is on the rise in business and by home users. Office 365 may be easier for consumers to adopt as they get used to paying for software on a recurring basis and dismiss their initial sticker shock of the annual fee.

Internship Journal Week 12- 4/14 – 4/18

Monday: 4/14

First, I checked cables and other equipment that had been out on a shoot this weekend and put it all away. I then worked with our Director of Photography to ingest some sample footage he had shot both in 4K Raw and in XAVC Codec and backed the information up to the XSAN. We then used Sony’s RAW Viewer to color correct the footage a little just for practice. We then got a call from a client who we shot footage for and ask if we could crop their footage to a very specific resolution, 486×486, for their website.  They sent us a video to match the shot framing on. I spent the whole  of afternoon working in Compressor to get the settings to match the example which I think I did. The challenge was for the video to not be stretched in the final product since it was 16:9 and is being cropped into a square.

 

Daily Total Hours: 7.7 Hours

 

Tuesday: 4/15

I started cleaning some cases and removing old shipping labels from them to get them ready to be send back out with our camera that is being picked up tomorrow. I then continued to work on the Compressor settings for the client project and wrote up a set of instructions in case someone needed to work on it when I wasn’t around.  It still stretches the image so I spent a lot of time trying to get it to work. We then packed the camera and other gear up that will be picked up tomorrow and then pulled gear for both shoots the following day. We then received the ok from the client to edit those clips which was basically fading in the beginning and holding for 1 second after they finished talking which I did and then continued trying to make the Compressor work and without stretching the image.

 

Daily Total Hours: 7.68 Hours

 

Wednesday: 4/16

We spent most of the morning figuring out how to resize those clips for our as needed by our clients using Final Cut Pro and then exported them out. We still spent a lot of time trying different things until we finally got it to export properly. We then put them in a zip file and uploaded them to the client’s FTP site. Then, I check equipment that was out this morning on a shoot and then we spent some time cleaning up one of the edit machines and ingesting the footage from this morning. I then spent the rest of the day playing with the Black Magic Design camera both outside and inside the office and learning how to use it.

 

Daily Total Hours: 7.62 Hours

 

Thursday: 4/17

We had a early crew call, to go into the city to shoot a video for the Marriott foundation. It was a “Day in the Life Video” for an organization created by the Marriott Foundation called Bridges that takes students who have learning disabilities and help place them in jobs with the Marriott and many other companies. This student, works for the Courtyard Marriott in Downtown Philadelphia originally as a Bell Hop and now as a security officer. We first shot some B-roll of his neighborhood and shot a introduction piece and an interview with his Bridges represenitive  who helped him get his job. We then went downtown and off-loaded our equipment at the hotel and then recorded him walking from the Subway stop to the hotel and then interviewed two of his supervisors and followed him around the hotel and shot in a verity of locations. Finally, we recorded an interview with the employee himself. We then copied all the footage to an external hard drive for the director and then packed up and loaded the truck. It was a long, busy day but it was a good shoot!

 

Daily Total Hours: 11 Hours

 

Friday: 4/18

My advisor came in this morning to visit and see what I have been doing as well as talk to my supervisor,  which went well. I then got some equipment ready for two rentals and checked a wireless mic kit before it went out. I then spent the afternoon learning how to make BNC cables, we took a long, broken cable and made it into several small cables that we need for viewfinders and other accessories. It really wasn’t to difficult once I learned how and now I really enjoy it! We also checked to rentals out and talked a while with the one Directory of Photography.

 

Here’s a picture of my cables: http://instagram.com/p/YTNNbPx7xp/

 

Daily Total Hours: 7.83 Hours

Reactions: 

The most valuable things from this week were definitly the shoot with Marriott because it was a different from the pharmaceutical corporate shoots we typically do and was more documentary-style which was a great learning experience. I also enjoyed learning how to make BNC cables and hope to learn more things like that in the future.

 

Weekly Total Hours: 41.83 Hours

 

Total Hours to Date: 436.32 Hours

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