iPhone users have had it a little rough in the past few years, seeing all the large phones come out while Apple has pretty much kept the screen size at 4 inches. Apple has stated that they could have done a large phone years ago, but wanted to wait to do it right. They may have waited too long, as they ended up losing quite a bit of sales and market share to larger Android phones. Reportedly they worked for several years on this phone and many were excited when the rumors started circulating that Apple was finally making a large screen phone. I pre-ordered one immediately as soon as everyone was able to, the iPhone 6 Plus with the 5.5 inch screen.

I knew I would like a larger phone because two years ago I did a year with Android. I purchased several tablets, smaller handheld units and phones, specifically the Galaxy Note 2. I wanted to do a semi-scientific test to see how well Android stacked up against iOS. With the Note I really loved the screen, the size, and actually I thought the stylus was pretty handy. Samsung has a lot of bloatware (I much preferred the cleaner Google produced Nexus devices I purchased) but I could see myself really warming up to a larger device for daily use. At five inches and above, the phone becomes a computer that you can do a lot more on.

The year spent with Android left me liking the hardware but not really liking the software. Google created the Android operating system and the OS is very open, meaning you can really configure it in many different ways. Unfortunately being more open leaves the OS more vulnerable, Android has issues with malware and viruses, very similar to PCs. Added to this the fact that Google’s business model in general is eroding your privacy to collect more data on you, so it can serve you targeted ads. Much the same way that Facebook generates revenue.

They do this in many ways, some very obvious and some not. My concern was Android was built by a company who has this business model. The combination of virus/malware potential, privacy concerns and also the general wonkyness of the Android OS (crashes, flakiness, etc) ended my year of Android on a pretty sour note. Granted this was two years ago, and Android has been spiffed up quite a bit since, but most of my initial concerns are still valid. I sold all my Android devices and even my Galaxy Note, and continued using my Apple iOS devices. It is not worth arguing Apple vs. Android, both platforms have come a long way and both have a lot to love. I just gave Android a lot of testing and evaluation for the better part of a year and decided iOS was where I was going to stay.

So if Google’s business model is collecting information about you so it can target you with advertising, what is Apple’s business model? Apple’s is selling you expensive hardware. Apple’s devices are not cheap but they are well make and feature great design. They developed iOS 8 because they want the hardware to be more appealing and run as great as possible.

As much as Android is a very open and customizable operating system, iOS is quite the opposite, very closed and locked down. Some people see this as a negative, I see it as the main selling point. I don’t have to worry about viruses, malware or any other exploits. With iOS 7 you had limited ways to customize the phone, but now iOS 8 changed that. Now you can really alter things like installing new keyboards, flexible app extensions and dozens of other options, but it still remains a closed system. However now I do feel like I have the best of both worlds, the customization of Android and the security lock down of iOS, as well as the larger phone I have been wanting for so long. Finally!


Design, Screen and Camera

Structurally the phone feels great in your hands. A lot of larger phones are made of plastic but this one is made of an aluminum alloy that feels like metal but weighs a fraction of that. They finally ditched the sharp/hard lines of the iPhone 5 and 5s and went back to the curved edges of the original iPhone. Picking up the unit you can really feel how much bigger it is, especially if you are used to an iPhone 4 or 5. But because it is more slender and amazingly thin, it feels very solid and comfy. I thought it would take me a week or so to get used to, but literally 15 minutes after I unboxed it, it felt completely natural. The largeness started to fade away as I started running my favorite apps on the beautiful screen.

And what a screen it is. I can honestly say I have used dozens of devices of all different sizes and this is the best screen I have ever seen. It has stunning color accuracy and saturation (not cranked up to ridiculous levels like some other big phones), amazing viewing angles and everything is sharp and vibrant. The pixels are now closer to the screen below the surface, so you really feel like your finger is moving around stuff.

Touch ID allows me to lock the phone via a fingerprint and that feature works great. As great as it did on my iPhone 5s. I ended up putting several of my digits in there so no matter what orientation I am holding it in, I’ll have a finger close enough to get me in quick.

Apps need to be tweaked for the bigger screen and new apps need to be written to take advantage of the 1080p display, also older apps are scaled up. However everything I have run looks stunning and performs great. Maybe I am just running apps that have been upgraded to work with iOS 8 and the larger screen, but everything works and looks great.

Games especially pop and taking photos and shooting video is a joy with the larger screen. The camera has been upgraded and the quality and performance under low light is fantastic. The iPhones have continued to be known for having the best phone cameras out there, even while other phones have desperately been trying everything from raising megapixels, to adding tons of software photo features, to increasing saturation into not-normal levels to blasting up the sharpness.

Take a few pics with the iPhone 6 Plus and you will become a believer.

The biggest feature with phone cameras is called dynamic range. It’s the level of grays in your images. For example, with most phones you can zoom in to a darker area, say under a shrub or in someone’s hair, and you see the blacks being “crushed”. Instead of subtle shades you see more blocks of black darkness. The good cameras, if you zoom in, you see lots of subtle shades and fine detail. This is how your eyes see, and a good camera recreates that. So other vendors try to ramp up megapixels and do all kinds of tricks with filters, but I can take one pic, zoom in, and immediately see the deficiencies in dynamic range. The iPhone 6 Plus has amazing dynamic range and hundreds of levels of greyscale. Long story short, it takes very impressive pictures in all kinds of light and stunning video.


The iPhone 6 Plus does have a few areas I need to get used to. First of all the power button is now on the side. I keep reaching for it at the top, where it has been on the last several iPhones. Also talking on the phone. With my iPhone 5s, it was so small that I put it up to my ear and I was right at the speaker. I could judge where to put it because I knew where it should be positioned. The larger iPhone 6 Plus, when I put it up to my ear, I typically have to tweak the position a little because I am not yet used to where the phone should be pertaining to the speaker. It’s the only odd dilemma I have faced, and I find that at the beginning of a call I am sliding the phone slightly to where the sound is the loudest. Not an issue when using earbuds, but it is something I did not expect. I am sure in another week I’ll find that sweet spot automatically. Other than that, using a large phone to make calls is not the odd scenario I envisioned.

Also because the sides are rounded now, and with the larger phone, I feel like the potential for dropping is higher. I got a case for it on day one and have yet to drop it, but while the phone feels amazing in the hand, some people would be better off with a case for a better grip.

Signal wise the phone just rocks. It uses faster wi-fi and locks to a signal in seconds. This past week I had LTE in many places where I would get 4G or no signal with previous phones. I had LTE in a movie theater! I know they have like a dozen antennas intertwining externally via bands around the back, but I have to say getting a strong signal, and keeping a strong signal, the iPhone 6 Plus does this without breaking a sweat. Both LTE and wi-fi are dramatically improved.

Battery life is a lot better as well. It is a much bigger battery of course because of the large size, and while I charge it nightly I could probably charge it every other day. This phone packs some serious juice.

The biggest surprise was how much my wife loves her iPhone 6 Plus. I assumed male geeks would gravitate towards the larger 5.5 inch phone, while females would choose the more understated, smaller 4.7 inch unit. Guess not. She loves the larger screen and probably has not put the phone down since she got it. Also at the Apple Store on launch day I saw many females walking out with the Plus. So I guess I will not assume in the future.

Did I ever consider getting the iPhone 6 4.7? Briefly. But after holding them I discovered that, for me, the 4.7 was a little too big for one handed use and a bit small for two handed use. So I would have stuck with my iPhone 5s for one handed stuff and my iPad for two handed. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I did not do that much phone stuff one handed anyway.

What has happened now with the 5.5 is I have basically replaced my phone and iPad with one device. Actually maybe 3, because I don’t use a Kindle anymore, because the iPhone 6 Plus 5.5 makes a perfect reading device.

Should You Get One?

Yes! If you want a new iPhone, I suggest this one over the regular iPhone 6 with the 4.7 screen. The 4.7 is not that much of an increase and while it is a great phone, the 5.5 Plus is the one to get. Apple allows a 2 week return policy if it does not work out. Anyone who “loves their iPhone” should spend a week with the iPhone 6 Plus and see what true love really is. Highly recommended.

What am I doing in FarmVille? As a gamer I had to see how the other half lives. I’m much more at home on a PS4 or Xbox One, or on Steam on my Mac, and while I do play games on my iPad, I am not sure I am in the FarmVille demographic. Actually I am not sure who the demographic is for this game. All I know is I’ve heard so much about these type of free-to-play games, I had to give it a whirl.

FarmVille 2 starts off with a bang. You are given a farm and a supply of keys and virtual coins to purchase things like apple trees and wheat fields. You start buying, start planting and stuff starts happening…fast. Before you know it you start leveling up and doing really well. It’s a sly move to hook you in early. The tutorials gradually open up more of the game and they do an excellent job of leading you through everything. Like a good RPG game, there are missions and tasks, and you can keep grinding (growing and selling) to earn more coins. More coins can be used to buy more land, so you can plant more things, as well as raise sheep, cows and various animals. They go on to produce product such as milk and wool, which you can sell to make more coin.

farmville 2 review ipad ios 2

The key however is, actually, keys. Keys are more limited in supply, they are powerful in that they can make things go by quicker. Peach trees are taking a while to produce, add some keys to it. Baking pies, keys can make them all set to go in seconds. You are nudged in the game to use keys to speed things up, but once they are gone, they are gone. You can buy new sets of keys for actual money, $2 or $10 or $50. Keys make your farm and everything you produce grow fast.

Or you can be patient. See the angle of the game for many is not building a farm, but seeing how far you can go without spending any money. The game is a free download and you earn keys and coins (and other types of currency later in the game) from playing. But after the first hour or so the game slows down considerably. Everything takes longer to grow or produce. Right now I am cooking a loaded baked potato that will take a total of 4 hours to be done. I have some of my farmhands fishing, they’ll be done in 8 hours. Some things go much quicker. Wheat can grow in 30 seconds. Cows can produce milk in about a minute. Generally items you can get a lot of coin for take longer, things less valuable, much quicker. Because there are so many things going on at one time, as you expand your farm you’ll always have plenty to do. Eventually you have to make items that need 3 different ingredients. So you are constantly managing and micromanaging the corn fields with the pan-seared trout dishes. Trout dishes? Surprisingly much more involved than growing corn actually.

farmville 2 iphone ios 3

There are lots of layers to the game, you can sell products to other players, accept challenges, send your farmhands exploring, buy prized animals for winning ribbons, perform landscaping, cook on stoves, weave on looms, do crafting, compete in timed tasks with deadlines, spin a daily prize wheel and much more. I was playing on my own and was reluctant to connect to my Facebook account, as much as the app gently kept suggesting it. But I did connect and it actually opened up a whole new world of helping others with their farm, them helping me, joining farm co-ops, buying and selling, trading crops and much more.

I am using the app on an iPad Air and I decided to try the Facebook app web version on-line. I thought it looked less refined, was not as polished (must be older) and was much more evasive in asking to invite friends at every turn. I’m going to pass on it. The very polished iOS app on the other hand can be played completely offline if you want, no internet or Facebook connection needed. The iPad app (it also works on iPhone) features beautiful graphics and animations, seriously this is a very polished presentation that looks, sounds and plays great. It’s got a lot of visual eye candy and as I mentioned there is always something to do, some new quest, new section of the game opening up and also plenty of farming. The games syncs to iCloud so you can play on all your iOS devices at anytime and everything is saved.

farmville 2 country escape review 4

So is it fun? Can you play without spending money? The game is a lot of fun. I am at level 17 so far and have played for many hours. I have not spent a dime of any real world money (so far) and part of the challenge has been to see how much I can get away with without paying. I think a lot! Now you have to be patient. Typically if you play and don’t pay you may eventually just dip in for some playtime a few times a day. It’s actually kind of relaxing, and it’s always a thrill to hear the audible sound of coins and levels building up. If you have a lot of Facebook friends, and connect the iOS app, you end up getting a lot of help from others which comes in handy. Helping them as well is pretty rewarding.

Now the game can get addicting. It’s actually pretty brilliantly constructed to keep you playing for just a little longer. During the day you’ll feel the tug, well let me just pop in to see how my peach trees are doing or what my farmhands have discovered during the adventure I sent them out on. It can also get a little complex as you level up. In the beginning you plant an apple tree, apples grow, you sell them. As you progress you’ll need to sell items made from multiple ingredients, cooked in different types of stoves and devices, manage your crops because your barn will only hold so much, and keep feeding animals so they can produce the ingredients you need to create higher priced items to sell. It’s spinning plates, in slow motion. These tasks are completed in seconds or hours, often you’ll be working on one recipe only to get sidetracked with another new task, challenge or even better (more profitable) recipe. Not to mention you are constantly looking to buy new land and shopping with your virtual coins to add new animals, plants and equipment, so you can make more money and level up. Even though you are always guided with help and tutorials to suggest how to keep things rolling, the game is flexible enough to let you focus on certain areas if you want.

Through it all you may also suffer burnout. There is great variety in the game but also great repetition. The game is not for everyone but it does reward those who are patient and who can play chess like strategy and keep several moves ahead of the game. If all else fails you can always drop a few bucks and get some keys to make (farm) life easier. I may consider it at some point, only because I actually feel a little guilty playing for hours for free. I’m just having too much fun trying to game the game, trying to get my way and advance without paying. So far I’ve been having a lot of fun approaching it from that angle.

FarmVille 2: Country Escape is available for iOS (iPhone and iPad) and is a free download in the app store. I recommend giving it a try, especially if you like time management games such as Sally’s Spa. You’ll know in the first hour if the game is for you, chances are, you may get hooked. If so, I may see you at a FarmVille co-op in the near future.

switching from Gmail and outlook to apple icloud email

What were the top posts on my blog in 2013? Glad you asked. I went through my stats and here they are, in order from the highest traffic to the lowest, the ten posts that had the most visits in 2013.

#1 – Google’s Gmail vs. Apple’s iCloud Email: Here are the Top 4 Reasons to Switch
This has been the most popular post on my site this past year. I don’t think necessarily that people are fed up with Gmail, I just think that Apple’s email is starting to become a viable alternative. Especially now that more people have multiple iOS devices

#2 – iBooks App vs. Kindle App: Best E-Book Reader for Apple iPad mini?
A year ago when I wrote this I was somewhat on the fence. I now use iBooks fairly exclusively. Even though the books are sometimes a little most expensive, and I miss out on some ebooks like Kindle Singles, the ease of use and interface, on all my iOS devices, makes iBooks a keeper.

#3 – iCloud vs. Dropbox: The Final Verdict
OS X Mavericks was reportedly supposed to include an iCloud Drive, but it never happened. I do wish Apple would add a folder based iCloud drive for advanced users. Maybe at some point.

#4 – Roku 3 vs. Apple TV Review
Since I wrote this we’ve added a Roku 3 to a new TV we recently purchased. It’s not too bad. The interface still needs to be improved and it is not as bullet-proof as Apple TV, but it’s getting there.

#5 – How to Buy Kindle Books on iPad
Large spike around the holidays on this page. I do wish Amazon would allow purchases of Kindle books directly in their  iOS app for iPhone and iPad. They would lose some profit by Apple taking their cut, but would get a tremendous amount of sales. Amazon making people navigate to a website or computer to purchase a book seems odd in 2014.

#6 – iPad mini vs. iPad 4 with Retina Display Review
This review stands but is now out-dated as the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina are now out. I was going to write a follow up battle but having the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina, and using them for a few months now, they are both amazing in different ways. But if I had to choose only one, it would be the mini.

#7 – Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote Control Review
With all the gadgets I own, this item is one of my favorites. If you have the budget, get one, it’s an amazing device.

#8 – New Facebook Redesign Concept
Basically just a link post, but it sure stirred up some opinions.

#9 – How to Buy Kindle Books on iPhone
Another popular post, especially right after the holidays.

#10 – 4 Secrets to Taking Great People Photos
I should do more photography blog posts. I have more secrets.

So that’s it, the top posts from last year. Have any questions? Contact me.

TV tracking video thumb print privacy copy

When you are surfing the web, it’s pretty clear you are being monitored. Using several technologies, most notably website cookies, your browsing habits can be tracked, and ads can be served up based on your interests. But what if your TV had the same capability? It will. The future is about to arrive, and it actually will happen this year. But are you ready to have your viewing habits and interests tracked in your own living room?

Digital sleuthing technology is a new form of tracking that monitors what you watch live or record on your DVR. Companies such as Cognitive and Gracenote, which create all the software for this to happen, track viewing information in real time and sync the information to a database through the web, via Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Marketers get a rich data mine to create tailored messages tying in to the likes and dislikes of the viewer. This technology, called video fingerprinting, extends to TV series, movies and commercials, as well as set-top boxes, streaming devices and Blu-ray players. TV sets from manufacturers such as Samsung, Vizio and Sony are in talks to incorporate this type of software, with some companies such as LG Electronics already displaying, at IFA in Berlin, the tech built in to sets about to ship. The technology and techniques will most likely also filter down to mobile TV. Right now, there are various app-based hooks in place to track what users are doing, but the advancements to mobile will ramp up the sync between viewing and real-time ads being displayed.

As Smart TVs get smarter, the one drawback is that they are still pretty dumb at accessing the needs of viewers. With the Internet and portable tablet devices, as well as smartphones, it has become easier to track mobile units, but living room TVs are still somewhat of a disconnected island. A lot of that changed with the Netflix button. As Netflix became standard on more and more TVs, viewers suddenly had a strong incentive to connect their TV to their home network. Once connected, they could get Netflix streaming, but it also allowed the TV makers to offer other apps, firmware updates and old school banner ads. These rudimentary ads that may appear when you access your TV’s internal menu screen are very reminiscent of the Internet 15 years ago. The landscape of banners ads for TV are very fragmented now, but its clear that this prime space is the next wild west that advertisers can stream into. The one drawback is that as slick (or as complicated) as these TV menus and screens are, they are almost always pretty disconnected from the actual TV sources plugged into them.

What about privacy? Who is going to want a TV to track their every move? Currently, this technology is opt-in, meaning that the viewer has to sign in for the tracking to begin. Of course, this could be tied in to features, so viewers will need to sign up as well as in to access some form of content. Tracking will most likely be described in a long scrolling terms of service that few will read. But once a viewer is in, the data will become extremely powerful and valuable. Imagine a 24/7 Nielsen box that tracks whatever is playing on the TV from whatever device. This is not too dissimilar to second-screen apps that rely on audio tracking currently out. Many apps on iOS 7, Android and Windows Phone allow “following along” with chats, message boards and info as you watch a program. The tablet or smartphone listens to your TV audio (much like Shazam) and figures out what you are currently watching via audio thumbprints. Video thumb prints take this to the next level and happen globally on your TV set, no matter what you watch.

Complexities arise once you start to think this through. What if you have kids and adults and visitors all watching different types of shows at all different times of the day or night? Will this new technology track all this intelligently and systematically, serving the right content to the correct person? This has been a struggle for many companies. Recently, Netflix tried to solve this problem with breaking out its one streaming account into multiple user accounts. So now, primarily and currently on the website version, before you go in to watch, you need to stop and click what user is going to be viewing. This allows Netflix to track recommendations on a more granular user basis, but it also causes an interface speed bump and user interaction. People just want to sit down and watch without designating users, or worse, having to log out of one user and into another just because some people left the couch or returned.

It’s fair to say that video tracking on a TV set basis is the next big thing. Ads have permeated so much of our life; the relatively calm waters of TV were bound to be disrupted at some point. Hardware such as the Kinect and Xbox One include technology that tracks, but it is (fairly) clear exactly what they are doing. With video thumb printing, advertiser tracking could be as murky and frustrating as online web ads and cookies have become. But be aware: TV tracking is not just coming; it is already here. The only choice we have to decide on is if we are ready for it.

marketing voice overs career recording

From the mailbag:

Hi Franklin. I came across your blog during my search for information on producing voice overs.  I’ve been a musician for 30 years have and also have been providing sound and recording for about 10. I’m looking to diversify into producing voice overs. The older I get the heavier my gear gets to haul around:).  My question for you is who should I be marketing my services to. I was thinking ad agencies but not too sure. For example who is creating the endless car dealer spots you hear on the radio? I really appreciate any advice you could share with me. On a side note I see you live in Portland. I work in Portsmouth and live near Rochester NH. – Respectfully Mike Galimberti / http://dtxdrummer.com

Who is producing those spots is a good question. It could be the local radio station themselves, it could be a local agency who handles the media for the car company, if it is a small dealer it could just be them doing it with a microphone and a computer. It’s hard to figure out, so don’t waste time trying to. If you want to market your VO skills, you need to go to the decision maker. In this case, say it is the car dealer. Pitch them to do voice overs for their commercials. Now they most likely have a place that does all their audio and video production. No problem, ask the dealer if they can introduce you to the production company. Could be something simple, like forwarding your contact info via email. Instead of finding and pitching a production company, you have their client introduce you. In marketing, try to look for creative paths to what you are trying to find.

When it comes to marketing and building your career, there are lots of strategies. You have to be different, market pleasure, keep clients engaged, rattle cages, be emotionally compelling, measure and manage it and most importantly, take it to the next level. You owe it to your audience to bring your craft to the masses, so keep the momentum going and continue to be a student of learning new ways to market yourself in fresh and engaging ways.

Have a question about anything? Drop me a note.

From the mailbag:

I am a simple person. Retired, traveling with spouse, live quietly now and do not like solicitors, con artists, spams and tracking. Although, this is probably unavoidable in this tech age. Also, we don’t use Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook or any other social networks. Really, we just don’t have a need of any of that. We love our iPads and our MacBook Pro. I want to ditch my Gmail and use iCloud. Can I move all mail (saved in gmail folders) to the new iCloud email account so that I don’t lose them? It’s mostly travel info and various receipts and such. The only other option would maybe be a paid service like cotse.net or similar for more privacy. Thanks for your input on this. We will stick with Apple products. – Paul

The easiest way to do this Paul is to use your Apple Mail app on your OS X desktop. Just add your iCloud account and also your Gmail account. Once you have both set up you can move emails between the two. The trick is to use either drag and drop or select all, copy and paste. Drag and drop will actually move the emails, copy and paste will copy them. There are a few websites that have the steps to do this and it is a fairly straightforward process. After you set it up, you can arrange a forward in Gmail to make sure all new emails going to Gmail get forwarded automatically to iCloud.

Deciding to move from Gmail to Apple Email is not too big of a step, because using this method you can always copy the emails back if it does not work out.

Have a question about anything? Drop me a note.

I played the first Assassin’s Creed and dabbled in the second one (I think I got it on Steam), but have mainly not been that interested in the series. The whole Assassin concept was not too compelling, I am much more into RPG exploring and leveling as far as adventure games go. I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag on the Playstation 4 for over 12 hours and while I feel like I have only scratched the surface on the game’s entire story, I have seen and played enough to have some commentary.

First of all the game is gorgeous. I was ready to not be too entranced by the resolution of the next gen consoles because at 720p and 1080p, they are essentially the same resolution as the last generation. So it was a surprise to see such vibrant colors, wide dynamic range, excellent anti-aliasing and extremely high resolution textures. Dynamic range is the levels of greyscale in an image, the more levels you have the more detail you can see. When you take a picture with an older camera for example, if you look at dark areas such as shadows and people’s hair, you see the area is often “crushed”, basically a blob of darkness with minimal detail. On newer cameras, you can see a wider dynamic range, where shadow areas have detail and shades. It makes pictures much more vibrant.

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag review

The next generation consoles have very wide dynamic ranges and along with the saturated colors, the imagery really pops. Ubisoft went full 1080p with this title and released an update that incorporates some excellent anti-aliasing. This technique smoothes out jaggies and makes for much more realistic scenery, especially when looking in the distance. The textures are the first thing you notice on next gen consoles. Typically with last gen consoles, if your character looked down while walking on a dock by the sea, you would see a rough approximation of wood texture, usually not too high res, and a murky, pixelated sea. But this game has very detailed textures, the wood grain looks great and the sea looks just about as it does in real-life, with deep blues, greens, sea foam, reflections and accurate and realistic waves. I often stop and just soak in the amazing visuals, especially if the sun is just rising on the horizon or a sudden wind and rain storm begins to brew.

Enough staring at water, how’s the gameplay? Fun, very fun. The game does not have a difficulty setting, but it remains a not overly hard game. Some segments are a challenge and take several tries (rescuing people or chasing someone) and it’s here where the game gets a little grating with running the player through repeated attempts. But overall I have yet to feel that the game was hard or easy, just a nice solid challenge. You go on various pirate adventures, exploring, fighting and going on missions, and most of it is very fun. Unfortunately the game producers assume you’ve played all the Assassin’s Creed games, instructions in some areas could use a little (or lot) more hand holding. Often a screen full of commands pops up as you jump into a new and dangerous scenario. Learning quickly is the key. I recommend the official game guide which you can get digitally via Apple’s iBooks. Speaking of digital, there is a companion tablet app to the game which syncs with your progress. I won’t get into a whole review of it, let me just say get it..it’s amazing how they’ve incorporated the tablet and PS4 game.

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag multiplayer

All in all the game mixes a lot of different game styles and genres such as combat, questing, sailing, sea battles, exploration, treasures, leveling up and many more. It’s never boring and you can always take a break from the story and go explore the current open world for side quests and loot. One thing the game does right is it keeps the story in the cut scenes. Unless you are in a story-advancing segment, there is no dialog and no text to scan through. There are various text items you find through the world that explain more of the history, and you do have a progress and tracking screen where you can get more background info, but what won’t happen is endless text conversations with random people. The games sticks to action and adventure and it’s a much richer experience because of it.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is a surprise, it’s a game I had low expectations for and it’s kept me busy for hours with exciting gameplay and adventures. The biggest bonus is the way it looks. It just looks gorgeous, colorful and vibrant on the PS4, with stunning locations and exacting attention to detail. The developers did a great job crafting a dense world with lots to see and do. The story moves along organically and the script never gets in the way of having a good old swashbuckling time. There is a distinct lack of role playing games for the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One, those will arrive in the coming year. For now, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, and living the life of a pirate in a beautiful open world, is the RPG game to get.

Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag walkthrough

I get a lot of great comments via the website, so I wanted to start answering them via blog posts. Let’s give it a whirl…

I am wondering if you are still enjoying all the iCloud services, especially the email? Any major problems? Thinking of making the switch myself. Thanks in advance.
– Brandan

I have not had any problems, in fact iCloud is working perfectly for me and has for months. The article I wrote, Google’s Gmail vs. Apple’s iCloud Email: Here are the Top 4 Reasons to Switch, seems to have struck a cord because it is one of the pages with the highest traffic on this site. One thing I did not mention is that I think Gmail will eventually only be available via the web and through a dedicated Google app. The way Google incorporates IMAP is different and many people have had issues with getting Gmail working in their dedicated email programs. I see this as a sign that Google is not that interested in creating a service that works with industry standards.

Twitter created an API that allowed developers to produce their own Twitter apps, and many great Twitter apps have sprung up because of this. But Twitter at the same time cut itself out of serving ads in these apps, and as Twitter becomes more focused on revenue, it has been pulling features from developers and making it much harder to develop Twitter apps. Eventually Twitter may just cancel allowing developers to create 3rd party apps.

I feel Google will head down this path as well.

Using a 3rd party email app cancels out the ad-serving element of Google, so I see Gmail getting more restrictive before it gets more open. It’s fine if you just read email in a browser. I just don’t want ads in my email. Plus as my article stated, Google scans through your email for keywords to serve ads. Most people would not be too comfy with this. This week they announced that they will now be caching all your email images. They are spinning it as an improvement, but it’s just more evasive tracking.

So I still highly recommend iCloud Apple Mail over Gmail. Also iCloud in general. I feel Google is always pushing me to give up more info (latest is forcing you to use real names in services like YouTube) and it’s just exhausting.

Can you have both ROKU and AppleTV on the same TV if you TWO HDMI ports on the TV? – Frank V.

Absolutely. Of the two I prefer AppleTV, but because of the price, there is no reason not to have both. Heck, if you have a third HDMI port, why not add Google’s Chromecast.

How come you don’t have comments enabled on your blog? – Amanda G.

I actually thought about this quite a bit. I wanted to try it through people (such as you!) sending a note in via the website and having me answer it in a post. Rather than have great comments buried different places on different posts.

So let’s try it..have a comment or question? Ask me anything. Drop me a note and let’s see if I can come up with a good answer. Thanks!


Yes I have had both for a week or so, and yes they are both powerful machines, but which one is better? Which one would I recommend? It may be too soon to create a final verdict, but here are my initial thoughts on both units, the pros, cons and what makes either machine outshine the other.


I ordered my Playstation 4 on Amazon and the Xbox One came via Best Buy, thanks to my lovely wife standing outside in the freezing weather for the midnight Day One launch sale.

Opening the PS4 box, you first realize that the unit is very svelte. It’s nicely designed with a very cool look. It’s also smaller and lighter than I thought it would be. The power button and disk eject button are a bit too hard to see and find, and they are also right next to each other, a design choice I would not have made. But the thing does look cool. It also sets up quickly, and uses the same cabling as the PS3, just a power cord (no brick!) and HDMI cable.

Before even opening the Xbox One box, just by lifting it, you get a sense of the heft. Where the Playstation 4 is slim with sleek lines, the Xbox is a big, heavy box that looks like a jet black PC. Since it comes with the Kinect motion and voice controller unit as well as a large power brick, there is a little more of a setup. My first instinct was, where am I going to fit this stuff in my entertainment center. But I managed to make room.

sony ps4 playstation launch details vs xbox one

Setup and Interface

The PS4 setup was pretty easy, just sync the controller and put in my PSN name and password. I was then off and rolling after downloading the latest update. The interface was clean, immediately accessible and understandable. I could quickly find settings to adjust, apps to download and the Playstation Store to download games. I could also see a scrolling list of all the activity of my PSN friends. Often it was a little too much activity, but I never felt like I had to scroll through it. The main drawback of the interface is that every app and game you install is blocked together on one long scrolling line. I could see in the future with many games and apps I would want some way to control and sort these things, and I am sure Sony will add some organization tools in a future update. I installed a few apps, such as Amazon, Netflix and Vudu and each had their own dedicated interface. Some look great like Netflix, and some like Amazon clearly have not been updated since it launched on the PS3.

Setting up the Xbox One was more involved, it just seemed to take quite a bit longer. Which makes sense because you are also setting up the Kinect. Speaking of the Kinect, I did try controlling the Xbox One using voice commands and found it hit or miss. Most of the time it worked, but when it did not, it was very frustrating. Not unlike using Apple’s Siri, when a command does not work, you try it again. Then you try it again only louder. Then it misinterprets what you are saying. Then you start to think, why don’t I just hit a button instead of struggling with voice commands? I feel like this will happen to a lot of Xbox One users. They’ll try it and when they hit a few speed bumps with voice commands not working, they’ll ditch it altogether. The problem is, Microsoft upped the price of the console by $100 and forced everyone to buy a Kinect along with the Xbox One, so ditching it so easily can be seen as a frustrating waste. I may give Kinect another try, since I have not even tried the hand motion commands. There is great technology there, I just don’t feel like wrestling with it.

microsoft-xbox-one-launch info holiday

You can run your cable box into the Xbox One and see your live TV on the Xbox One screen. Not only is this pointless (who watches live TV in 2013?) but it’s again a lot of extra and pricey technology built in that perhaps many will not even use. Most people use a receiver to switch to different video inputs if they have a decent entertainment setup, Microsoft’s running the TV into the box would have been exciting ten years ago, but I don’t see the point today. Especially since it can’t function as a DVR and does not interact or control your existing DVR.

I installed some apps and was excited to see the YouTube app. Microsoft has a strict interface that apps adhere to (scrolling boxes) and I was sure that the YouTube app would look great on this next gen box. Unfortunately I was sad to see the horrible YouTube interface that the PS3 also uses. I played around with it for a few minutes and then gave up.

The actual Xbox One interface takes a lot of its design from Windows 8, which means its got miles of scrolling boxes, and it takes more clicks than usual to get anywhere. The interface does seem a bit more organized than the Xbox 360 version, but if this initial version seems a little cluttered, I can’t imagine what it will look like a year from now when so much more is added. Microsoft always slapped non-relevant ads in the Xbox 360 interface, and I anticipate that will happen more as the months roll on with the Xbox One. I also found the Xbox One interface a slight bit more sluggish than the PS4 interface. It is a lot speedier than the Xbox 360 one, but there is a slight bit of loading (represented by a spinning circle) going from section to section. Most won’t notice, and it is far from a deal breaker, but it’s not really what I would expect from a next gen powerhouse interface.


The Xbox One controller has changed a bit, not much, but I think I prefer the Xbox 360 controller. Maybe I need to get used to it more, but the new controller feels slightly less comfy. It also has a slicker feel. It’s still grippy but the plastic is a little too smooth. Also the weight seems to be reduced a hair. Something about it seems off, and I can’t quite put my finger on it, maybe I just need to get used to it. The Xbox 360 controller has been the gold standard of console controllers, so changes to that may take some adjustment time.

The PS4 controller on the other hand gets an almost total redesign, and for the better. Where the PS3 controller felt blocky, lightweight and caused hand fatigue, the PS4 one is super comfy, substantially weighty without being heavy, and feels amazingly natural in your hand. Seriously, Sony took just about every lacking aspect of the previous controller and improved it. Since Microsoft’s controllers are so good, I would say that the PS4 controller is now in the same league. Both controllers are usable, with the PS4 getting a slight edge so far.



There are many articles on the specs of the two machines, but the summary is that the PS4 is a more powerful machine that requires a bit more power to run. The Xbox One is a less powerful machine, but is much more energy efficient. The thinking is that Microsoft anticipates people will use the Xbox One as a digital hub that is on all the time. I’ll go over how wrong they are in a minute, but the problem with going with a less powerful, but lower power device is that Microsoft may not be able to keep up with the PS4’s resolution and frame rate.

Microsoft’s last console, the Xbox 360, regularly had games that were 720p but upscaled to 1080p, just to hit the performance of no dropped frames during gameplay. They’ve been snagged again (via resolutiongate) with the Xbox One. As Xbox One games came out around launch, several websites analyzed the games and found several were running below 1080 res and being upscaled. Microsoft responded “it’s about the games, not the resolution”, which makes little sense.

I would counter with “it’s not about the resolution, its about the anti-aliasing”. Anti-aliasing is a process where HD graphics are smoothed out to reduce jaggies. Jaggies don’t often occur in a full screen character giving a speech, but way in the background, you can often see jaggies along vertical lines in some games. Last gen was full of jaggies, but now that is outdated hardware. Basically you don’t see jaggies in “real life”, and if games want to create ultra-realism, they need to use anti-aliasing.


Actually both systems should be able to get 1080p and 30 fps, but the better looking games going forward will use various forms of anti-aliasing. However this process takes more computing power, and here is where the PS4 could spring into the lead. Since the PS4 has more horsepower to apply anti-aliasing, the games, all things being equal, may end up looking better on that platform. It’s still early to tell, but we do have one new example: Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag (my review is here). The game looks great on the Xbox One, but it looks amazing on the PS4. Why? Because the developer updated the game to add anti-aliasing. It now runs at 1080p, 30 fps and jaggies are just about nonexistent. This makes a huge difference to the look and feel of the game, and I have to say playing Black Flag on my PS4 looks very next gen. Trust me on this one, anti-aliasing will be a big topic and hot debate on both consoles in the coming months, once people get a taste of how it looks when done correctly.

Speaking of games, both consoles make games look great. Really great. From the sharpness of the textures to the vivid 1080p detail to the highly saturated colors, everything really pops on both devices. The first game I played was Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag and I was floored at how great it looked and how smoothly it performed. Also playing Need for Speed Rivals, Killer Instinct and others, it is a big step up from the PS3 and Xbox 360. When you stop to think about how launch games rarely scratch the surface of the potential of a new machine, we’ve got some pretty amazing gaming years ahead of us.


Who will win? Well both will do just fine. Both platforms have a built in fan base and both have enough momentum to keep rolling for years. Strictly as a gaming console, the PS4 does take a bit of a lead. At its core it’s a lean and powerful machine which is completely focused on games. Having a sleek device with a great controller, games look amazing and the controller is very much improved. Xbox One can play the gamer card just as hard, but the device is more expensive, includes the Kinect which is an expensive add on that not everyone wants, and its live TV based concept of being your digital hub seems a bit misguided. The Xbox One is too limited to be an actual entertainment room hub. It also has too much baggage, the Xbox brand being a gamer’s device for many years. If Microsoft thinks everyone, mom, sis and dad will be using the Xbox One like they do in the commercials, I think they may be in for a slight letdown. I appreciate Microsoft’s focus in wanting to take a bigger piece of the pie and make an all encompassing device, but it ends up trying to be everything to everyone, diluting its real strength, which is being an awesome gaming machine. Of course Microsoft has traditionally bypassed niches and went after the wider consumer market, to great success, so time will tell if their strategy pays off.

In the end it really is too soon to tell, consoles take a year or two to hit their stride, and these two are way too early in the game to make any definitive assessments. I have both devices, and will use both for the coming year, but so far I have to give the slight edge to the PS4. The Xbox One has a lot of features and has a great game line up, but the PS4 is more focused, and seems to be more powerful, with a clean interface and great controller. If I had to choose one over the other, I would head in that direction, but I can’t imagine anyone who would not be happy with either. These are two very amazing machines that we have yet to even see the enormous potential of.

apple iphone 5s launch lines waiting gold phone silver anger

Apple fanboy does not even seem that fitting. I should be more than that. I believe I have just about every Apple product currently out. I’ve been a huge fan for years. I’ve attended many iPhone launches. But today I attended my last.

Up at 5:00 AM, the excitement was building. Many don’t understand why anyone would stand in line for an Apple product. I think it’s like Christmas for adults. The marketing, advertising, the keynote…it all builds up the excitement. I went with my wife Karla and our friend Jen. We got to the mall shortly before 6:00 AM.

We were in a good position. We were about 10th in line. I breathed a sigh of relief. Our chances of getting the phones we wanted were golden.

Or so it seemed.

Karla and Jen wanted gold and I was on the fence, leaning more towards gray but also open to gold. Shortly after 6:00 AM one of the Apple employees came out and thanked us all for showing up. I think her name was Marge. She quickly dovetailed into a more serious speech letting us know of the “very limited availability” of the iPhone 5s. Because of the “overwhelming demand” the stock was “extremely limited”.


According to my watch, the iPhone 5s had not yet gone on sale in the U.S. No stores were open, and the 5s had not been available for pre-sale or reserving. So not one had been sold yet. But the dire speech kept going back to this incredible demand that had seemingly transpired.

We eyed each other and sipped our coffees and tried to remain as enthusiastic as we could while being at the local mall before sunrise.

Scanning the line I could see there was now close to 50 more people filing in. Some had worried looks. Some were on the phone conveying the “overwhelming demand” news. But most were just hanging out hoping for the best.

About an hour later Marge came back and wanted us all to get excited and start clapping. I mustered up the energy even thought I now know that this women had been designated the bearer of bad news.

“How’s everyone doing this morning?”

That depends on what you are about to say Marge.

“I just wanted to give everyone an update”

OK it’s been an hour, time for some good news.

“We wanted to let everyone know that we have no iPhone 5s gold or silver phones in stock today”

Excuse me?

It’s now about 7:15 AM. The store opens at 8:00 AM. We’ve been here since just before 6:00 AM. Now you tell us the phone we want is not even in stock?

“Due to overwhelming demand…”

Seriously Marge, you say that again you’ll be wearing a hazelnut coffee helmet.

“..we are out of stock”

Store still not open. Watch still says none have been sold.

It was not true that they had no gold phones. They actually had 3. The people at the front of the line, the first 3, got them. I turned around and saw dozens of people looking very let down. Christmas for adults had turned into Christmas for kids. Sad, disappointed kids. Kids who did not get that one toy that they so desperately wanted.

Karla and Jen said very little. There was some mild PG-13 swearing. Some guy near us kept eating a Boston creme donut. I kept thinking, how can you eat at a time like this? There was quietness. There was disappointment.

I was disappointed too. But then it turned to mild anger.

This is a yearly tradition. You set the alarm, get up early and most of the time if you get in line soon enough, you get what you want. But 3 gold phones did not even begin to cover the huge line that had been forming.

As I jumped on the web, I read that carrier stores like Verizon and AT&T actually did not get any gold phones. We checked over at Best Buy and Walmart. Nothing. Gold was nowhere to be found. Since we were at the only Apple Store in the state and carriers/stores seemingly did not have what we wanted, it seemed like a pretty crappy Christmas for adults just about everywhere.

Apple sent out a release within the hour that outlined how amazed they were by the “incredible demand” and some phones are “already out of stock”.

Yes the three gold phones in the state were purchased by three people.

My mind filled with questions. Why did they not level with us about the amount when we first arrived? Why were we kept in the dark for nearly an hour? Why with a week of global marketing were there only 3 chances for gold? Why is that Boston creme guy now staring directly at me? If there was such a dramatic shortage, why was the silver and gold iPhone 5s launch not delayed for a few weeks?

The store was opening. All the chipper blue shirt employees came streaming out and were cheering. Marge, bearer of bad news all morning, was getting everyone in the line to cheer and chant. She was whipping into a frenzy a group of clearly disillusioned Apple fans. Somewhere from the back of the line a large tomato whizzed over everyone’s heads and splatted right onto the Apple Store sign.

OK I made that part up. But that would have been a nice visual to film in slow motion. With a new gold iPhone 5s.

I am sure next year’s Apple launch will have enough phones. I am sure there will be an even larger line for the iPhone 6. The only difference will be that I won’t be in that line. I won’t be setting my alarm for 5:00 AM and chugging coffee and excitedly joining a group to purchase a little bit of magic.

This year’s Christmas for adults had Apple sliding down the chimney and landing with a coal-laced thud. Granted every year is a gamble. You get there and you hope for the best. But this year the odds were not stacked in our favor, even before our alarms went off.

As I was leaving, at the very end of the line, was a young girl about 20 years old. She was not so obsessive, or perhaps did not know the drill, to show up at the crack of dawn. Maybe she was dismayed at being on the tail end of a huge line. I bet she wanted a gold phone. I sorta felt bad for her. But I noticed she was smiling. She seemingly was just was having fun being there and enjoying the whole event.

I looked back and saw Marge, who seemed more excited then earlier, as she gleefully greeted everyone who entered the store with a firm handshake. I looked down at my new gray iPhone 5s. It looked sleek and beautiful and was super fast. I was happy with my purchase.

I began thinking that maybe I should relax a little and just go with the flow. Maybe just appreciate what I have instead of what was not available. Maybe just enjoy the process. Maybe go treat myself to a Boston creme donut.

Maybe I will see you next year.


Movies for years, especially sci-fi, have featured small portable touch screens. It’s still kind of amazing with the iPad and others, we now get to have that technology. So what is next? Although the smart-watch label has been set now, it’s really about wrist communicators and wearable technology. Watch-like devices that allow us to get data, watch video and communicate. We’ve seen these for years too, most notably starting with “Dick Tracy,” but how close are we now to getting our hands on, or in, one?

Here is a new piece for Broadcast Engineering Magazine that I wrote which goes over what the future could look like:

iWatch Wearable Technology — Smart Watch Race between Apple, Google and Microsoft Heats Up

Which will you choose? The battle of console heavyweights has begun and we can begin to see who is going to attract the masses and who will be struggling. Once the consoles are launched this holiday season, they will most likely be sold for close to a decade before being upgraded, much the same way Xbox 360 and PS3 have lasted. So far with the information that has been released, we have a fairly clear picture of who the winner will be, but lets break it down to the details.

xbox one vs ps4 winner console battle

Xbox One

Xbox 360 is currently the reining champ of consoles. The Playstation 3 is close behind in sales with the Nintendo Wii pretty much dried up and the Wii U struggling with low sales numbers and lack of compelling Nintendo branded games. Microsoft launched Xbox One, its next generation console, with a pre-E3 press conference that was almost entirely centered on the box being a living room device the whole family would use. Kinect motion and voice commands would control the unit and you can watch TV live via an HDMI input, as well as via many apps featuring content, such as Amazon, Hulu and Netflix. At E3 Microsoft brought out the games and made an attempt to win gamers hearts.

It did not work.

Microsoft stated that the Xbox One would have some limitations and restrictions surrounding used games and on-line requirements. First MS put a hook in the operating system that allowed publishers to not allow sales of used games. Meaning that if you bought a new game on a disc, and wanted to sell it to Gamestop, or loan it to a friend, it would likely not work for the next user. This eliminates renting Xbox One games as well. Trading, selling and giving games on disc is a huge market, because after putting down $60 you would want to get some return on your investment if you decided the game was not for you. The market may shift to downloadable games now, since Xbox One (and PS4) will have games also available to download when they come out, but there will still be millions who want to purchase actual discs. Microsoft also added a gaming stipulation in that your Xbox One console must connect and be verified once a day via the internet. Watching DVD movies on the included blu-ray drive and live TV will work fine without internet, but gaming requires an internet connection.

microsoft-xbox-one-launch info holiday

Gamers were not happy at all. Twitter lit up like a Christmas tree when the news of these restrictions hit the fan, and it has not let up since. Aside from being more restrictive, it also negatively impacts a console’s life time value. Older systems from Nintendo and Sega and even Microsoft and Sony allowed buying games and playing no matter how old the system was, even after they were discontinued. Now in 10-15 years, Xbox One servers may be cut off, either on a game basis or on a console basis. With everything so closely tied to authentication to online servers, it could ensure that games in the future will not even get past a loading screen.

Think of a movie on DVD. Now you can buy them, collect them, sell them. But what if you bought a movie from a small independent publisher and to play it, your DVD player had to verify the movie and be connected to the internet at least once every 24 hours. Now imagine 5 years from now, that publisher goes out of business, closes down the server and your DVD does not play at all. It would not make me very happy.

Microsoft also is making the Kinect a required part of every purchase. It is no longer an option. Which has driven the price up to $499. I don’t want or need a KInect. But like everyone, if I have an Xbox One, I need to get one.

Specs wise the Xbox One is slightly less powerful than the PS4, not a deal breaker, and this is mainly because the box is built for more always-on performance. MS wants this to be the center of your digital living room, so they have sacrificed some power for lower energy requirements. Again not a huge deal but I would think they would want to pack as much processing in as possible for the hard core gamers. But this does not seem to be their focused mission. Gamers are great, and have made the current console number one, but Microsoft wants more. They want this to be your DVR and DVD player, your streaming box, your Apple TV and Roku, an all in one entertainment device. It’s a big bet, one that may or may not pay off.

Playstation 4

Sony’s launch of the PS4 was also split into two separate press conferences (pre-E3 and at E3) and it was certainly a one-two punch to Microsoft. First came the mantra that PS4 was built from the ground up for gaming. Plain and simple. Sony is not trying to make a console that appeals to everyone, they want to directly target gamers, hard core and casual, and make that their primary focus. It does not matter that for things like video, the PS4 has many of the same apps as Xbox One (Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Crackle, Vudu, etc), the primary focus is games, games, games. This one move already swayed many gamers who would choose only one console over to the Sony side, but then Sony kept on going. They stated that the PS4 would work offline for games, except of course for multiplayer, you can play games on DVD with no connection needed. No daily check in, nothing.

Gamers cheered. Loudly.

sony ps4 playstation launch details vs xbox one

Jack Tretton at the PS4 launch also stated that the PS4 would be free of used game limitations and/or mandatory online authentication. In addition the console is region-free, meaning you can order PS4 games from other countries to play. Xbox One games are locked into different territories. Gaming fans were beyond enthusiastic with all the PS4 news, seeing the unit as much less locked down than Microsoft’s option. But then came the icing on the cake, the price.

Sony came in at $399 for the Playstation 4, $100 less than the Xbox One’s $499. Sony has a more powerful machine, with less restrictions and at a less expensive price.

Does that make the PS4 a winner over Xbox One? It does. For now. I should mention that I am actually an Xbox guy. I have had both an Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 since launch, and use them both, but always veered more towards the Xbox for a few reasons. I think their online users and avatar setup is more advanced. I have many friends on Xbox Live (add me: franklinmcmahon) but far fewer on PS3 (add me there too: franklinmcmahon), so I think MS did a better job of being able to add friends more easily. Also I love their on demand selection of game downloads, I find most disc based games I want or have are available for download a few months later. And I love the Xbox controller, the PS3 controller still fells not too comfy.

But I am more excited about the PS4 than Xbox One at this point. Which surprises me. I don’t need a media hub box to run in live TV. Who watches live TV? I watch my DVR and Apple TV or my iPad. I don’t want to speak voice commands and wave my hands, I just want to use my Logitech Harmony Ultimate remote. I think both consoles have some interesting games coming up, and I will probably get both units, but for now the PS4 has gotten far more appealing than the Xbox One. It’s still early, and news is more spin than facts, but PS4 is easily in the lead for now.


But how do the two match up when it comes to being an all in one entertainment box? Read on to hear my opinion on the entertainment side of this heated console battle:

TV Entertainment Console Battle: Xbox One vs. PS4



Literally within hours of my releasing this blog post, Microsoft reversed or eliminated several of the bad features I had pointed out in the above review. Coincidence? You decide. ;)

Here is coverage from The Verge:
Microsoft reverses Xbox One online check and used games policies following backlash

As well as the official blog post from Microsoft:
Your Feedback Matters – Update on Xbox One

Very interesting to see Microsoft backpedaling so far, but in the end it does show that they are listening, and responding, to their future audience.

streaming TV roku apple tv xbox one amazon

Lots of moving and shaking in the quest to own the living room TV this past week. Although streaming channel Hulu Plus may be sold soon by interested buyers including Yahoo, DirectTV and Time Warner Cable, and Netflix is pulling record numbers from the reborn semi-original series “Arrested Development,” the real movement is how consumers actually see these streaming channels. Roku has just raised a $60 million dollar round of funding led by Fidelity, Apple TV could be poised to advance via the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next week, and the just announced Microsoft Xbox One is committed to taking over the entertainment duties of the living room.

Different strategies, but who will come out on top? I did a feature article for Broadcast Engineering Magazine this week that goes over the landscape of what may just happen next, check it out:

Streaming TV Battle: Roku 3 vs. Apple TV vs. Xbox One


Part of the problem with us creative people is it’s very hard to turn off the flow of ideas. Many of us come up with new ideas seemingly hourly. It’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s quite good to continue the flow of ideas coming to keep things energized. The problem creeps in when there are so many ideas that it crowds out important missions. Or when an idea comes up that sounds fresh and exciting and you end up shifting away from your core creative career strategies to jump on to this new brainstorm. If the flow of ideas keeps you off track, then there needs to be a system in place.

First look at ideas as clouds. Imagine a bright sunny day with a couple of clouds. Ahh..soothing and pleasant. Nothing wrong with a few clouds here and there. But the more ideas you have, the more clouds come in, and what was once a sunny day is starting to become mostly cloudy. Then overcast. Then it could become really overwhelming. You’ve got so many clouds it becomes dark, you can’t even see the sun.

When you get an idea during your work week, you need to capture it and put it away. Refer to it at a later time. This part is important. The system could be a notebook and pencil, it could be on your phone or laptop, a digital device. When a thought occurs, jot it down and file it…away.

The reason you file it away is because you don’t want to assign it sudden importance. The same reason when the phone rings and you are working on a project, it’s better to not drop everything and switch to the phone. Not assigning sudden things as important, just because they are sudden, is one of the cornerstones of productivity. It’s the difference between a higher productive creative professional getting things done and a frazzled worker trying to catch up while immediately jumping on every distraction that appears. You’ve seen the stressed and frazzled workers and well…it’s not pretty.

Ideas should not be assigned any importance yet. They are merely ideas. They don’t immediately go on to your task list. They are not put into action while you drop what you are doing. They are captured and filed. You will explore them at a later time.

What happens if you assign immediate importance is you put them on the same level as your mission critical tasks for the day. The more ideas you have, the cloudier it gets and the harder it is to focus on doing what really matters. So don’t just add ideas to your growing daily to-do list. Capture and file. Then refer back at a later time. The idea will seem urgent, will seem important since it arrives so suddenly, but trust me, it almost always belongs in your idea file. And if you don’t have an idea file, start one. Otherwise you’ll have many ideas rattling around in your head on a continuous cycle. This is often more distracting than anything else you can do. Just jot them down.

Each week should be tightly focused on big goals and projects with an exciting and separate idea file you build that does not distract you. Avoid a huge jumbled, sprawling and ever growing to-do list that lacks priorities. These types of lists often wrongly give priority to the newest brainstorm.

Are you focused on your main tasks and goals for the day with a solid idea capture and file system?

Are you ready for a universal remote that calls itself “Ultimate”? Logitech has been making universal remotes for years now and has nicely covered the mid and higher end market with a range of options. But they’ve now released a unit called Ultimate, so of course if you want the best they have to offer, this is the one to get. But how does the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote Control stand up to the competition, does it truly do it all?

Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote Control

Last year I got sick of having a basket full of remotes. Like most people I had done some consolidation, mainly mapping devices to my Time Warner Cable Universal Remote. It was not bad, but still a bit cumbersome switching buttons and modes. I have several devices such as a Denon AVR-791 7.1 receiver, Sony BRAVIA XBR65HX929 TV, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Apple TV and on occasion a Roku 3 is also in the mix. I decided to purchase the Logitech Harmony 900 and was very happy with it. It quite literally consolidated all my remotes into one. In fact it turned on just what I wanted, when I wanted, and worked great.

The main drawback was it was a very slippery remote, made of glossy plastic, that always seemed to slip out of my hands as well as attract fingerprints. Also the unit did not support my Playstation 3 out of the box, I had to buy a separate hub just for controlling that with the Logitech Harmony 900. But it did have a nice touch screen interface and worked well, so I stuck with it for months. But when I saw the Logitech Harmony Ultimate, I knew they had worked hard to refine an already excellent universal remote. I decided to get one and have been very impressed. It rights some of the wrongs of the previous model and contains many improvements.

harmony ultimate side view

The Ultimate remote is shorter and much grippier to hold than the 900. While the front is semi-glossy plastic, the back is a matte hard plastic with texture and ridges, and is very comfy to hold. The unit controls thousands of devices and does IR and Bluetooth, so there is PS3 support without a separate hub. Setup is via USB and the Logitech website, which has improved since last year. You input your device model numbers and go step by step and the programming is very easy. The interface has tons of options, so you can really craft how you want devices to work with the remote. But at the same time it is very user friendly, making setup a breeze.

The biggest advance is the new touch screen. Clearly inspired by Apple’s iPhone, the new touch screen works just like a phone, you can access menus and swipe to switch screens. You can set up all your buttons such as Watch TV, Play Xbox, Watch Apple TV, and have them all accessible with a tap. There is also a screen for gestures, if you want to control your devices with swipes instead of the actual remote buttons, and the screen is motion activated, it turns on when you lift the remote and goes to sleep once you set it down. There are new channel presets on one screen, so you can set up a button for say HBO and hitting that will turn on everything needed and go straight to the channel. The previous remote beeped but this one actually vibrates. The subtle vibrations provide excellent tactile feedback to let you know when a touch screen button has been clicked.


As for actual buttons, each has a short press and a long press option, so now you can assign two commands to each, such as short press to pause and long press to fast forward.  The remote has a free app called “Harmony” in Apple’s iTunes app store or on Google Play. It’s pretty cool and works great through your wi-fi system to send commands. The app pretty much recreates everything on the physical remote, so you could get by with just using your iPhone for a remote. The Logitech Harmony Ultimate remote has a nice dock with it for easy charging and the screen updates to let you know when it is fully charged.


The Harmony Ultimate does not really have any downsides, only one that I could find. For some reason the DVR remote buttons are on the very top of the unit. It’s odd that the touch screen was not on top since that would be the logical place I would assume it would go. As such, when you use the top buttons you need to reorient and slide your hand slightly up the remote. They have even included a second smaller ridge to make holding this way easier. Again it’s odd that some buttons were moved separate, and it slightly reduces the great ergonomics of how the remote feels in your hand.

Plus with using the top buttons, your hand is now over the touch screen, so you need to slightly raise your palm so as to not active any screen commands. Not a deal breaker by any stretch but just some odd design choices in what is obviously a very well thought out, solidly built and slickly designed product. The only other detail for some may be the price, it’s a little on the high side. However I have to say, it is so worth it. But Harmony remotes traditionally go on sale and the prices dip over time on sites like Amazon, so keep an eye out.

The most compelling part of the Harmony Ultimate Remote is how it simplifies your life. It’s important to note that this isn’t just a universal remote, it’s a universal remote taken to the next level. Where you hit one button, say to watch Apple TV, and your TV turns on, your Apple TV goes on and your audio receiver activates. The remote already knows that the volume buttons control your receiver (not your TV) and the button pad on the bottom of the remote is already mapped to mimic your Apple TV remote. Literally one button to start everything, no modes, no tricky hacks, just pure remote control bliss.

Logitech Harmony Ultimate Remote Control Apple TV Xbox Cable

It’s not a stretch to say that this is the best investment that anyone who is even remotely (see what I did there?) interested in having a smooth running entertainment center. Plus there is zero learning curve for other family members, they can just pick it up and start using it.

The Logitech Harmony series has produced some great all in one remotes, and their new one is the best one ever, I highly recommend you check it out. It truly earns its title of “Ultimate”.


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Where is the Kindle bookstore on iOS, iPhone and iPod Touch? It’s very easy to get to. This has to be the biggest question people have for me asking about Ebooks, where is the app to purchase Kindle books. The answer is there actually is no app, and you can’t purchase books directly within the Kindle app on iPhone.

Any store that is in an app on iOS has to give Apple a 30% cut on each purchase. Amazon decided they did not want to give Apple a percent of their profits, so they did not include a store in their app. However they have created a web-based store where you can easily make purchases, download samples and check out reviews. The link is here:

Amazon Kindle Bookstore for iPhone:

Now you will need to actually be on an iOS device, such as an iPhone or iPod Touch, for that link to work. But once you click it, the web interface will load right up.

In case you are also wondering how to get to the Amazon Kindle Store on your iPad, that we covered here.

how to buy kindle books on iphone ios

If you want to add the Kindle Store to your iPhone home screen, just click the arrow down at the bottom and select the “Add to Home Screen” option.

When Amazon first decided to not include their bookstore in the Kindle app, I could see why they would not want to give a chunk of their profits away. But now I think is the time that they should include it. Amazon has not been known to focus on profits, they lean more towards casting a wide net to capture customers and marketshare. They often want to make purchasing as easy as possible, as they have done with their own Kindle Fire HD tablets. Even though it would take some of their profits, it is inconvenient for Kindle fans on the iOS platform. Many find it easier just to use iBooks and grab samples and make purchases from there.

If Amazon wants to make Kindle the #1 ebook store on iOS, than adding it to the iPhone app, and making purchases as easy and seamless as possible, would be a very logical step. I often go back and forth between the iBooks App vs. Kindle App to decide which is better, but I have to say having a built-in store in the Amazon app would be very compelling and could tip the scales. For now at least there is a web version, so we’ll have to settle for that for now.

Where do you start? One question I get constantly is how to learn Photoshop and how to learn graphic design. I’ve seen a lot of people take the incorrect route with this and I’ve decided to do a short video explaining the process. Especially if you are using Photoshop CS6 or the new Photoshop CC via Adobe Creative Cloud, or going through tutorials, these tips can help. It can make you better at the tool and better at graphic design, particularly if you are just starting out.

Watch on YouTube: Ask Franklin – How to Learn Photoshop CC and Graphic Design

how to learn photoshop cc creative cloud free tutorials

creative career advice

When you start your business and begin offering services, chances are you are offering a lot of the same things your competition is. There is much common ground, similar options, services and features. The hardest thing to do is also the most important, which is be different. Being different gives you leverage. It sets you apart from the competition. You begin to offer something that can’t be had anywhere else. It does take some time with a pencil and sketchpad to really map out what you can offer that cannot be found elsewhere, but it’s one of the most important brainstorming sessions you’ll ever have.

A great classic business book is “Differentiate or Die” by Jack Trout, which explores the topic in great detail. You don’t even have to read it, the concept is right there in the title.

Bear in mind you have more competetion than you realize. There are companies that are on your radar but there are far more you have yet to discover. Most strategic moves you do can be replicated by others. Lower prices? Others can do that. Higher? Yep. Add more services? Others can double theirs.

What is a move you can make, something you can do that cannot be copied by your competition?

It’s not an easy task. But with enough thought, there will be things you can offer that no one else can. Look at it from a potential client’s view. With so many options, who would they choose? Successful businesses branch out to be different and then multiply the moves. Pretty soon they become a local, national or international leader and then competition is more focused on catching up and mimicking the changes.

Try making a list of items that you could offer that your competition has not even thought of yet. Just sketch them out and think of as many as possible. Then start to think how you could weave this into your empire.

What sets your company apart? How can you outmaneuver the competition by being compellingly different?

the pleasure step in your creative career business

How you market yourself has a big impact on perception by a potential client. Often your creative business grows not because your skills get better (although that always helps) but because you start to rethink how you position what you are offering. This typically happens in three steps:

1. Services

We all start out this way. When you first set up shop and provide services, you almost always list them in very basic terms. Web design, photography, music creation, marketing, social media, graphic design, etc. You list just what you do. I take photos of your event. I will design a website for your needs. I will market you on social media. You have a need, I fill it. Simple and to the point.

2. Solutions

The next level is when you start to look at the big picture. Instead of just designing a website, you sit down with a client and figure out how this will fit into their marketing. You position it as a solution to many problems. Instead of just doing logo design, you begin to research how the logo will be used, where it will be shown and how it can extend the client’s brand. You move from providing just the mechanics of a service to being a partner in your client’s strategy.

3. Pleasure

This is when you tap into a client’s primal desires. People want to avoid pain and move towards pleasure. You take them there. Most modern advertising is based on this. Cosmetic companies like Revlon are not just selling a service (this will make your lips red) and not offering a solution (this and other elements will make you fashionable) they are selling the pleasure (this product will make you beautiful and desirable). This step is when the client is buying on emotions. From a floor cleaner to a frosty ice coffee to a new car to insurance coverage, thousands of products and services are positioned to appeal to people’s feelings, not their specific needs.

Many business owners and creative media artists are only around step two of the three steps. But start to think about how you can move to the third level. Years ago I was one of the first photographers to get a digital camera in my area. It was an exciting time, shooting as much as I wanted and not worrying about film. I promoted it heavily on my website, in ads, everywhere that I was a full digital studio. Over time I realized, people did not care about megapixels and workflow, they just wanted to look amazing in great shots. I started focusing on the aura of the process, the feeling, as opposed to the mechanics of the craft.

You may be thinking, I code HTML, how sexy can that be? I do a print ads for a hardware store, I am not Revlon! But remember it’s all story telling, every creative artist and business owner is telling a story with their work and client projects. The key is to tell a story that is not mechanical and straight-forward, but one that is visually involving, has a dramatic narrative and taps into people’s emotion.

This goes for all your promotional materials as well as your paid projects. It is the difference between what a new freelancer may do and what a top agency produces. The agency works to create an emotion or reaction out of the viewer, it is where the standard mechanics stop and the compelling story telling begins.

Basic clients are looking for a basic task, bigger clients are looking for the solutions of the larger picture and huge clients are looking to tell an emotional and theatrical story that moves people. If you want bigger clients, you often have to tell bigger stories as well as ones that provide pleasure and emotion.

Look at your client work, your website and your promotional materials, are you telling compelling and emotional stories?

What step are you at now? What step do you want to move to?

Andy Warhol was famous, and infamous, for saying very little. In the press, on TV, during interviews. But instead of the public losing interest because he was boring, the opposite happened, they became more and more intrigued.

It’s hard not to be chatty these days, with so many digital ways to get your words out there. But having an element of mystery can really help you rise higher in people’s minds. You can often leave them wanting more. Warhol was an extreme part of the spectrum obviously. It would be difficult to have a televised interview or web feature and answer in either one word answers or repeat the question back to the person doing the interview (as Warhol often did).

andy warhol advice creative arts career

But keep Warhol in mind. Google him and check out YouTube. He was an astute listener and observer. And the more he seemed unfazed by the proceedings, the more the public wondered about his opinion, making him world famous for several decades. The less he talked about his next move, the more people thought about what his next move might be. Our eyes were on him, because we wanted to see the world through his eyes.

You can’t build an audience by being quiet, but as your circle grows, mix in some mystery, keep people guessing. Keep people on the edge of their seats and away from glancing at their watch. Rather than always telling people, position it so people are always asking you. Generate some mystery.

Want to browse over 1 million books, newspapers, magazines and blogs for Kindle on your iPad? It’s easy with the new Amazon Kindle Store Web App for iPad. Traditionally if an iOS app includes a store, then Apple gets a 30% cut from each and every purchase. Amazon deciced they did not want to share their profits with Apple, so instead of developing a Kindle store app they have created a Kindle ebook store web app. Actually it works just like a regular website, except redesigned and built for the iPad and iPad mini:


Just click the link above, make sure you are on your iPad when you do it. You’ll need to sign in to your Amazon account.

free kindle ipad store app

Once you have it loaded, you can click the share button and add it to your home screen:

free kindle store web app for ipad and ios

It’s very easy to set up and very handy. When you get onto the website, just keep in mind that the back and forward buttons are on the top left of the page, use them instead of your back and forward browser buttons.

I am still deciding on iBooks App vs. Kindle App: Best E-Book Reader for Apple iPad mini, but at least this web app makes it a whole lot easier to shop via Amazon for Kindle ebooks.

facebook home HTC first update

Lots of speculation today over the announcement on what will be the rumored first Facebook Phone. Except that it really is not a Facebook OS, but more a skinned version of Android running on HTC hardware. Facebook is focused on getting its various apps front and center, and building a phone around Facebook’s toolset does make sense. The Verge is reporting the Facebook Phone is sort of already here, but there could be some surprises. 9to5 Google has some screenshots of Facebook Home Android UI which supposedly leaked. Details on how to get the Facebook phone will be announced later today, I’ll update this post as info comes in. The best places to check for the latest info on the phone will be Techmeme and The Verge.

– Here is the live streamed blog coverage of Live from Facebook’s ‘New Home on Android’ Event from The Verge – HTC First
– Official Facebook Newsroom Post
– Details on getting one – HTC and Facebook announce the First smartphone with AT&T, arriving April 12th for $99.99

Here is a video overview of the Facebook Phone:

get facebook home for free download

Above Image – Facebook Home on HTC First Smartphone

From Facebook:

How To Get Home
Home will be available as a free download from the Google Play Store starting April 12. Home works on the HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung GALAXY S III and Samsung GALAXY Note II. Home will also work on the forthcoming HTC One and Samsung GALAXY S4, and on more devices in the coming months. Home will also be available pre-installed on phones through the Facebook Home Program. HTC and AT&T are the first companies working together to deliver a phone with Home. It’s called the HTC First and it goes on sale April 12.

We designed Home to be the next version of Facebook. But we also wanted to do something more. We wanted to reimagine the way we all use computing devices to make us more connected and bring us closer to the people we care about.

facebook first home screen new

Above Image – Facebook Home on HTC First Smartphone

It will be interesting to see who the target demographic is for this. People absolutely love their iPhones, and people also, yes it’s true, absolutely love their Android phones, but will people love a Facebook phone? Many have an uneasy mix of feeling apathy and privacy violation, and see Facebook as a necessary evil that is kind of hard to ignore, since everyone is on it.

At my running group last night, we were making plans to run this weekend. When the topic of “Facebook me” came up there was a mix of emotions. Some were off it, some were off but back on it begrudgingly, some were tired of it. There was a thread of stress once the topic of Facebook came up. Although when the conversation turned to Pinterest, everyone seemed to love it, so maybe a less angst-ridden “Pinterest me” will be in our future.

I don’t mind Facebook and have been on it for years personally and for my business, I think once you figure out the privacy controls it can be set the way you want it. I have unfortunately maxed out on my friend list, so I am less enthused about it since I am cut off from making new connections. As for a phone, I am sticking with Apple’s iOS iPhone 5, because a Facebook phone would be very similar to a Google phone, focused on gaining as much personal info as possible to serve me what it thinks I want, and also to serve me ads. Make no mistake, Google and Facebook are a business to sell ads, and a phone based on either will reflect that. Apple is in the business of selling hardware, and making great software to support it, web ads (and privacy violation) are not the business model.

It will be interesting to see how a Facebook phone fares in an already crowded marketplace, no matter who the demographic may be.


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where to watch arrested development season 4

Netflix has finally announced the release date for the new 4th season of Arrested Development. On May 26th all 15 new episodes will be available for streaming via Netflix. If you have not checked out the show, now is the time to binge watch the first 3 seasons on Netflix streaming. It may take you a few episodes to get into the groove, but I still feel it is one of the funniest and well made comedy shows of all time. Very happy to see it return. For now, check out some little know facts about the show…

watch arrested development season 4 netflix

bioshock infinate review spoiler free

Is it worth playing? Here is my (spoiler free) review. If you are a gamer, it would be nearly impossible to escape the hype surrounding this game for the past many, many months..actually seems like years since this game was first announced. Ken Levine and the team at Irrational Games created the acclaimed 2007 video game Bioshock and while there was an outsourced Bioshock 2, this is the real sequel the team has been working on.

But of course it’s not a sequel at all, it’s a new story, but it does share a lot of the same methods and styling of the original Bioshock. The biggest change is while Bioshock was underwater, Bioshock Infinite is up in the air, quite literally.

Set in 1912 America, the game’s protagonist, former Pinkerton agent Booker DeWitt, is sent to the floating air city of Columbia to find a young woman, Elizabeth, who has been held captive there for most of her life. Booker rescues Elizabeth, the two are pursued by the city’s warring factions, the plot unfolds, as does Elizabeth’s strange powers and background. In fact Booker himself has a few powers (literally) up his sleeve as well. Anything beyond that would spoil the plot, which really needs to be seen unspooling. The less you know, the better.

bioshock infinite elizabeth

I played through many hours using the Xbox 360 version (I’ll update this post if my opinions change the deeper I get) and so far there are several pros and cons concerning the game. First it should be noted that critics are falling over themselves praising the game, so all targets are pointing to this being the game of the year. There is a lot to like about it.

First of all it looks amazing, the floating city of Columbia is beautiful to look at and each chapter in the story keeps you wondering what will happen next. Your goal in the game is to rescue Elizabeth, and she is a great companion to travel with. Since she’s been locked up and held captive (not under duress, just being monitored) for most of her life, her sense of wonder over seeing and exploring a whole new world is much like you own exploring the game. As such, you bond with this feisty Disney-looking women very quickly. In fact she is your best bud during fights as well, where she will help out with items and also throw coins your way to buy supplies. There is much to explore in the game, and having a companion with a range of emotions to explore with makes the journey more fun. Of course she often wanders off and into trouble, and you need to swoop in and rescue, this is a video game after all.

bioshock infinite

Some of the not so great things about the game is it tries so hard to not be derivative, but at the same time trots out almost every video game cliche in the book. Gameplay has not advanced like the story has. While there is not leveling per say, there are powerful items you can equip, and you go searching for loot constantly, coins, ammo, food and occasional rare items do make exploring fun. But the mechanics are a jarring mix that clashes often with the story.

While the game takes a cold hard look at American racism, political views, and our country’s violent beginnings, the meshing of first person shooter, supernatural themes and digging for loot seem a bit off. For example, Booker has some powers (no spoilers, this is in the first section of the game) that can be used to fend off enemies. With his left hand he can wield these spells like a wizard, but with his right he’s working a stock shotgun. Why would you need a shotgun if you were magical? Or why spin a spell when you can blast a machine gun? The casting seems like it’s more for fans of Bioshock than ingrained into the story.

Also because so much is centered around looting and picking through trash cans and picnic baskets (and corpses) for coins and ammo, during daring set pieces where Elizabeth is swept away by bad guys, you are pausing to roll over a fallen soldier or check just one more trash container for some extra cash. Unlike Uncharted or the new Tomb Raider, where battles and exploration are almost always distinct and different areas, Bioshock Infinite does an uneasy merging of the two. I would have loved to see the game eliminate the FPS element altogether (or at least toned down) since periodic waves of enemies almost seems like it should be in a different game, rather than the beautiful, thoughtful and yes important one you are playing.

One other thing to mention is that there are various difficulty levels, which is great, you can play at your own speed, however there is no game saving, only automated checkpoints. This means you can’t just sit down for 10 minutes and play here and there, you have to work through large chunks of the story at a time to reach the next checkpoint save or you will lose your progress. It does stop you from constant saving and keeps you focused on the game I guess, but it would be nice to see checkpoints not so far apart.

So what do I think about the game? It’s great to look at, it’s a rousing adventure, and it does keep me coming back for more. The worlds and plot are fun and engaging, and it is very easy to get invested in helping Elizabeth get to safety. But once in a while I see the game as an amazingly well crafted skin on a standard RPG and FPS. What works so well and soars so high as far as script, emotion and art design can sometimes get bogged down with clunky aiming, endless loot searching and trying to get to the next level. Half the fun is getting there and indeed, with Bioshock Infinite it is a lot of the fun. I’ll keep playing, and I do recommend the game, they have done a fantastic job of creating an engaging world that makes you lean forward to admire and also lean backward to see the good and bad in our own reality.


If you don’t play games but are still interested in seeing Bioshock Infinite, here is a walk though of the first couple of hours. It is ALL spoilers, but I am linking to it so people can see what the game is about:

Want more? Here are all 15 video chapters from FRANKIEonPC on YouTube


3D printing is about to change the world, so I figured I better get you up to speed on it. Some say it will be bigger than the Internet, a tall order for sure, but one thing is for sure…it will be big.

So what is 3-D printing? Basically it is comprised of low cost (a few thousand dollars) printers than can print nearly anything in 3-D, from a coffee mug to toys to food to clothing to a car, the possibilities are almost endless. There is now even a 3D Pen for drawing in 3D. There is also some controversy surrounding all this. Like being able to print out guns, or making an exact replica of something, which could violate a copyright.

3D printing dress girl creative makerbot design

A lot of the momentum is coming from the company MakerBot and their Replicator 2 device. Working with companies like Autodesk, they have developed an online repository for objects called Thingiverse as well as an app for Mac, PC or iPad called 123D. There are also other websites devoted to 3D objects such as Instructables.

makerbot digitize scan object

While the Replicator 2 is MakerBot’s big seller, recently they announced a 3D Digitizer prototype that allows you to actually scan an existing object to make a 3D replica of it. Very cool stuff.

MakerBot is not the only game in town though, there are other companies such as Solidoodle and 3Doodler making some very cool hardware, and competition can always help.

makerbot relicator 2 3d objects

I think all of this is pretty amazing, and the MakerBot Replicator 2 does look pretty awesome. When you start to think of the different type of materials that can be used, and the printers getting lower and lower priced, and the fact that it is accesable to normal people, adding in that huge libraries of objects are being developed, it’s all very cool. Of course like other recent technologies such as Google Glass, there are many unanswered questions that will come up. But solving those issues could be just as fascinating.

makerbot 3D printer object

So a lot of this info can be overwhelming, but there is a quick way to learn almost all you need to know about 3D printing. One of my all time favorite YouTube channels is PBS Off Book. They produce fantastic documentaries on a range of great topics, typically centered around the creative arts. Best of all, these very watchable videos are less than ten minutes and pack a lot of info into a short amount of time.

They did one recently about 3D Printing and it’s a great primer to get you quickly up to speed (in 8 minutes or less):

720P YouTube Version – Will 3D Printing Change the World? | Off Book | PBS


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iphone 5 vs android vs windows phone

Very good article I discovered via Jim Dalrymple’s excellent daily Mac website called The Loop. Matt Honan over at Wired has some insightful commentary on attempting to stop the fights between smartphone users. Fanboys and others have been running at a fever pitch lately, argueing about Windows phones, Apple iPhones, Google and Samsung Android phones, and many others.

Yes I am probably as guilty as anyone, whenever I see a poor person struggling with some free Android phone they just got talked into, I am the first to swoop in and go over the many benefits of Apple’s iPhone. It seems almost like cell phones have gotten political, with smartphone brand lines being drawn much like Republican and Democrat corners.

My (biased) beef is I want people to make an informed choice and not just grab the first unit that is cheap or looks cool or you are swayed towards via an in-store sales person. Smartphones are a huge part of most people’s lives, and it’s not something you want to struggle with for the next couple of years. I often tell people about the iPhone and then they return from the store with an Android. They explain how the salesperson said “it was just better”. And with it being cheaper and typically a larger screen, it’s often tough to argue. But argue..I must.

Anyway Matt Honan’s commentary is geared around letting people make their own choices for themselves. Hmmm..that’s certainly a new concept I had not thought about:

Please Stop Fighting About Your Smartphone

girl with camera marketing websites business

Is your lack of talent in one or several areas sinking your own business?

You’re not a web designer, but you’ve created your business website? You are not a designer but just finished your company brochure? You are not a video producer but are developing weekly YouTube videos? You’re not a photographer but just did all the photos for your new ad? Read on.

I always recommend that if you have a lack of talent in a particular area, you should get help, either someone to help you or hire someone to do it for you. I’ll give you an example. You have a product or service you want to sell, you have worked hard to make it really compelling, because it is your specialty. Of course you need to have a website and make sure you come up in search results. But doing SEO and web design is not exactly your talent. You are not a designer. So rather than get someone who knows what they are doing, you design the website yourself. It’s OK, design is not good, it does not function too well, but hey at least it’s something up there.

You’ve just displayed your lack of talent in an area and displayed it for the world to see. You are using this to try to promote your real passion and real talent. You then try to figure out why the results are not what you expected.

Say you have great ideas, you want to star in your own show, it could be a video show on the web, a podcast, a weekly presentation. You have the talent, drive and ideas to really light up a program. But producing costs money, so you handle the production yourself. You get an old webcam, so-so microphone, attempt to edit, etc. You are not too good at it, but it’s good enough. Once again you are promoting and displaying what you are not good at for the world to see, in an effort to get people interested in what you are really good at or passionate about.

You do this project after project. You rinse. You repeat.

Now I am all about learning, don’t get me wrong. Getting into new areas and developing new talents is great. This is not what this is about. It is about having a genuine talent and then completely surrounding it with a subpar presentation. The problem is most of the audience will stop at the presentation. If something is not well produced, not pleasing graphically, hard to get into or seems more amateur, people will immediately judge it as less then important. And this is the kiss of death when you launch anything. It could produce a path of project after project not going anywhere. You’ll get hearty thumbs up from your friends, but the real audience that matters may quickly turn away.

You are trying unbelievably hard at something you are not good at and getting little to no results. Let me repeat that: You are trying unbelievably hard at something you are not good at and getting little to no results.

What also happens is when you struggle with the presentation, you’ll get a bigger sense of accomplishment when you are done, because it will be quite an achievement for you. Because it is so tough and took so long. This however will not thrill the masses. Ironically what you have spent hours and sleepless nights over will seem amateurish to a savvy audience, they will think you whipped it up in a few minutes. Why? Because it is not what you are good at.

The solution is remarkably easy though. Get others involved who have the talents you lack. It’s no secret to surround yourself with others who are more talented then you to make anything a success. A lot of people do the opposite though, surround themselves with people less talented. Volunteers with free time. Think of your career like a boat. A ton of people without skills you direct will make the boat heavy and likely to sink. A large crew of talented boaters will make your project, I mean your boat, go faster and run efficiently.

Vanity stops us from getting people on board more talented than us because we feel threatened. We want to be the top dog. Not a good move.

Really start to think about getting some great people to help you produce. Whatever you are doing, get a person who is an excellent delivery person. You have the talent and skills and message, but get great people to help you bring it to fruition, bring it to the masses.

Also get creative on how you collaborate with these people. It is not all about money, although I always recommend hiring people to help you grow your empire because it just helps it grow faster. It can be about someone volunteering or working out a trade or anything really, just getting that talented person on your team.

Look at your current projects. Look at the part you are least good at, the part you always struggle with and are least happy with. Or the part you have never started, because you lacked the talent. The part just sitting there for months and years. How can you get someone to work on that part while you focus on the areas you really excel at?

How can you grow your empire faster by working with others who have the skills you lack?


I am seeing an alarming trend in superhero movie trailers lately. Not even sure how to describe the issue exactly. Perhaps “Dark Knighted”? Growing up, superhero movies were fun escapism, the male equivalent of the romantic comedy, where you kind of knew the plot and definitely knew how it would end.

Ever since the recent Batman movies, especially The Dark Knight Rises, most superhero trailers have become mopey and dire, with the weight of the world on the protagonist’s shoulders. You hear the heavenly angelic singing, the fades to black, the gravitas of the narration shouldering utter hopelessness. Good times.

Mind you, these are only teaser trailers, and often the movie does not reflect the same tone. But if you watch these clips, you will see the trend.

Now I am not saying that superhero movie trailers are suffering the same mopey angst that fun rock and roll got hit with when Nirvana stepped out onto the stage.

Actually…maybe I am.

Man of Steel Official Trailer #2 (2013) – Superman Movie HD
MOPEY RATING – 4 out of 4 stars ****

Star Trek Into Darkness NEW Trailer 1 (2013) – JJ Abrams Movie HD
MOPEY RATING – 3 out of 4 stars ***

Iron Man 3 Official Teaser Trailer #1 from Marvel and Disney (1080p HD)
MOPEY RATING – 2 out of 4 stars **

The Dark Knight Rises: Official Teaser Trailer
MOPEY RATING – 4 out of 4 stars ****

using google glass review

Are you ready? Google Glass is a new personal communication device that is slated to have a release date later this year. You may have seen the demo, checked out the price, saw how it interacts with your iPhone or Android. And you may have been intrigued. Part of its feature set is that it allows you to record and broadcast live video, creating a personal and wearable TV studio. Privacy advocates are up in arms, geeks can’t wait to preorder, so what is the real impact going to be? Here is an article I wrote this week for Broadcast Engineering that breaks it all down, and shows what your future video communication device really looks like:

Google Glass and the Wild Future of Personal Mobile TV


Read more on FranklinMcMahon.com:

iPad mini vs. iPad 4 with Retina Display Review

4 Secrets to Taking Great People Photos

The Secret to Getting Anything You Want in Life: Just Ask

iCloud vs. Dropbox: The Final Verdict

Roku 3 vs. Apple TV Review

Google’s Gmail vs. Apple’s iCloud Email: Here are the Top 4 Reasons to Switch

I think there is a clear winner in this, but let us step back a few months because this review actually began last year when I purchased a Roku 2 box to compliment my existing Apple TV. Both Roku and Apple TV are designed to allow watching streaming TV channels such as Hulu Plus and Netflix. Each has gone through several revisions and both have technically progressed well. I’ve used Apple TV for years, starting with the very first one which was huge (compared to the current model) and included an actual hard drive. But I was always curious about Roku, so last year I took a chance and decided to get one. It did not end well.

While the Roku 2 certainly had a leg up over Apple TV with channels, it easily had way more channels and services integrated, it turns out that was about the only thing that I liked about it. I found the Roku 2 box to be a unfriendly mix of bad interface design, unstable software and awkward channel adding. First the software design looked like a web page from the early 90’s, complete with tacky banner ads. The mix of bare bones software and bland presentation did not give me confidence. If the company put this little work into their interface, how is the actual box going to perform? Seemingly not that great. Within the first day the box has locked up and rebooted twice. I am talking about a total takedown. What a sinking feeling to have a new device be this unstable. It really tempers your excitement.

roku 3 review vs apple tv

I installed the downloadable updates as instructed, which came pretty often, but still the whole OS seemed a little unsteady and sluggish. But the last straw was adding channels. Unlike Apple TV or other devices (like the Xbox 360 and PS3) where you can merely sign in (or sign up) for a service right on the box, Roku kept grinding me to a halt by popping up a numeric code and directing me to go to my computer to visit a website and activate the channel. Seriously, if the future of my living room entertainment is having me run downstairs to my computer to type in codes, then we’re all in trouble.

Yes I have an iPad, but often with most providers the website was not optimized for mobile, or worse yet, it was optimized for mobile and I still had to go to a real computer. Long story short, I disconnected the Roku 2 and set it aside with some other things in my tech graveyard. I was just put off by the whole experience and happily went back to my current Apple TV 3 (3rd generation).

But then I saw the new Roku 3 had just been announced. Was it better? Was it new and improved? Should I take a chance on it again? Oh what the heck, why not. I ordered it I believe the day it was announced, and since Amazon was not stocking it quite yet, I purchased directly from Roku. The unit was about the same size, but a little heavier. I assume they added weight so it would not slide around as much. Annoying animation on boot up was still there, some things don’t change too much. After the booting, the setup was automatic, and totally wrong.

roku 3 vs apple tv compared

I have a 1080p TV and surround sound, and yet Roku defaulted to 720p and standard stereo, seemingly not able to ascertain what equipment it was hooked up to. I assumed the unit was properly setting me up, and discovered the wrong settings in the preferences. I also assume many will hook up the Roku and completely miss out as the box sets you to a lower resolution and sets you up with two speaker output. Roku 3’s setup, let’s just say, is not automatic.

Good news though, the updated interface was noticeably more refined. It scrolled better and was more logically laid out. It contained large easy to read boxes and was slightly more Apple TV like. Gone were the cheesy banner ads and simple interface. But this beauty was only skin deep, if that, because once you dove into the apps, it was the same as the Roku 2, only worse. Worse because many apps instead of having bad interfaces, now had totally different interfaces. For example Vevo had a different interface than Vudu which is different than Netflix which is different than Amazon Video which..well you get the point.

It may seem like a good idea to let providers create their own user interface, but the problem is every time you add a new channel, you need to figure out a new layout. Granted this does not take long, but it’s slowly edging into the fractured area that has helped to sink Google TV. Apple TV has one interface and each provider’s materials has been adapted to conform to it. What results is a smooth user experience that anyone in the household can immediately grasp.

Then came the return of the codes. I spent more time on my computer than setting up my Roku 3. Again almost every major channel makes you stop, go to the related website, create an account, go to a specific URL, type the code shown on screen, wait for the activation.

As a user experience, this is just awful.

A geek will have no trouble spending an hour setting up all the channels. But some may give up. Again many sites are not tablet optimized for this kind of account activation, making it more frustrating. Roku is clearly focused more on adding more and more channels from content partners than fine tuning and polishing a consistent interface across all areas of the device’s interface.

After the Roku 3 was set up, it did perform well. It did not crash and the interface did seem snappier than the previous version. Even though Roku 3 supports hundreds of channels, many are ones you would never watch. In fact anyone or any website can create a Roku channel. There is no real quality control gate. The heavyweights are all there (Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, Amazon, Disney, HBOGo, etc) but once you start sifting through the 700 others, there are few true gems to be found.

One app I really did like was the Time Warner app. It allowed you to sign in to your TW account to verify you had Time Warner Cable, but once you activated it, you could watch over 100 live channels and many on demand channels. This is a really cool way to add a Roku 3 to second TV without having to rent a cable box.

Now it may seem odd that with this comparison of Roku 3 vs. Apple TV 3 (3rd Generation) I am saying very little about the other unit. That’s because there is not much to say except I still prefer the Apple TV over Roku 3. Apple’s unit has a beautiful smooth interface that just works. You can purchase or rent thousands of movies and TV shows though iTunes, watch sports, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vimeo and YouTube. Each channel has a consistent interface and everything just works. I also should mention that I am a big YouTube fan and it’s kind of a deal breaker because Roku has never had YouTube and does not look like it will be getting it anytime soon.

is roku better than apple tv

I should additionally disclose that I have an Xbox 360 and PS3 (and hopefully soon a PS4) so I am also stacking Roku up against those units, since many of the channels are the same. While the PS3 is pretty fragmented as far as app user interfaces, Microsoft has done a great job with the Xbox 360 in making all the interfaces of the video apps look and work the same. I much prefer the professional look and feel of the Xbox interface over the Roku 3.

Roku 3 is getting there and each new release is more refined than the last, but honestly, I have more than I can ever watch with Apple TV and iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, Vimeo and YouTube. In fact that is all I need. But the main thing I love about Apple TV is that it has an easy setup, a smooth and speedy interface, lots of features (Flicker, Photo Stream, Airplay, etc) and content looks absolutely stunning on it. Roku 3 has some channels that look great and some not so much, but everything on Apple TV, 720p and 1080p content, looks beautiful.

But one thing I rate above almost all else is usability. Apple gets props for its good looking hardware, such as the iPad, iMac, iPhone and iPod, but really the secret is their user interfaces. Both Mac OS X and iOS are just easy to use and understand. Apple TV is a slick and very usable interface that works and looks great. It’s a joy to use and never a chore.

Now I may do a Roku 4 review when that comes out (someday) because I  am impressed with what Roku is doing and certainly all that it has accomplished. And even though Apple TV 3rd gen has dramatically less channel options, it has everything I need and does it with a graceful setup, first class usability, interaction with other Apple devices, a speedy and beautiful interface, full iCloud support and great looking HD output.

I’ll keep an eye on Roku, but for now, I am sticking with Apple TV.

apple tv 3 review


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iPad mini vs. iPad 4 with Retina Display Review

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4 Secrets to Taking Great People Photos

Bioshock Infinite Review – Saving Elizabeth

The Secret to Getting Anything You Want in Life: Just Ask

iCloud vs. Dropbox: The Final Verdict

Google’s Gmail vs. Apple’s iCloud Email: Here are the Top 4 Reasons to Switch

Chances are good you’ve been taking advantage of your awesome iCloud suite of features. From iPhone and iPad backups to Photo Stream to syncing documents and data, you’ll find the more options you toggle on in your iOS and Mac OS X iCloud preferences, the easier your life gets. But what about iCloud email? You may already have a Gmail account, or Yahoo, or Hotmail, or Outlook, or any number of services, but should you switch to Apple’s iCloud email? It is definitely worth considering. There are several key advantages, and switching is not actually that hard, so let’s look at 4 reasons why you should switch and finally how you can switch.

Ads and Privacy

Did you know Google reads through your Gmail before you do? Google’s business plan revolves around searching through your email to flag keywords so it can deliver you ads. That way it can support the free service that Gmail is. Not to pick on Google, because nearly every other free email service does the same. If you access your email from a web browser, you are mostly likely providing daily advertiser info culled from your correspondence. I don’t have a huge problem with this, any web page does pretty much the same thing on commercial sites. But what if you want no ads? Suppose you just want to go in and read your mail without engaging in an advertising focus group? iCloud provides ad-free email. Not to over simplify, but Google uses Gmail to attract users with free software, so it can dive into your personal info and serve up ads. Apple’s business model is mainly to sell you new hardware, and to provide free software services to make using and syncing that hardware a great user experience. So iCloud does not need to be ad supported. Again, nothing hugely wrong with ad supported free email services, but once you journey into iCloud’s clean ad-free web email, you may not go back.

4 Reasons to Switch Your Email Over to Apple’s iCloud

Clean Web Interface

iCloud.com offers one of the best web-based user interfaces around. If you have not visited your page at iCloud.com, go take a look. It is classic Apple, clean, clutter free and a joy to use. Be sure to use it on Safari however, using iCloud on various browsers can give slightly different results, but on Safari it runs like a well-oiled machine, er, email program. It also has a fairly robust feature set, so it can pretty much go head to head with your current email web interface.

Automatically Configured

This may be one of the main reasons I switched, iCloud email is automatically configured on all my Apple devices. From my iPod touch, to my iMac, to my iPad and iPad mini, to my iPhone, as soon as I set up my device and log in with my Apple ID, my iCloud email is ready to go with zero configuration. I often get new Apple devices and reset or update current devices, so it’s very handy to toggle on email sync and not have to worry about doing a separate configuration.

switching from Gmail and outlook to apple icloud email

Great Feature Set

From vacation auto-responders, to IMAP support, to redirects, to creating an email alias, iCloud is a very full featured email program. You can do a lot from your iDevice, and you have even more options via the web interface. Want to set up an email alias that you just use for web purchases? It’s easy. Need to set up a vacation reminder and redirect all emails while you are gone to a separate vacation smart folder? It only takes a few steps. Unlike sifting through panels and pages of settings upon settings in Gmail, Apple’s settings are easy to use and implement for normal human beings. You can also set contacts to VIP status, so those who are very important get routed into a separate VIP folder for quick access. As simple and easy as iCloud email is to use, if you check out the settings, there is a lot of power under the hood.


So how do you switch to iCloud email? Well, here is what I did when I switched. In my current email program I set up a forward, so all emails from my old email account got forwarded to my new iCloud.com address. I then added a signature in my iCloud email that had my new iCloud email address and I replied to everyone from my new email. For another older email address that I do not use anymore, I set up a forward but also added a vacation auto-responder, so if anyone emailed me, they would get a notification that I now had a new email address. I actually put a link in the automated response that points to a form on my contact page. The easiest way for most people is to just do a forward for say 6 months or a year, then after a year, turn off the forward and switch to an automated reply message that points to your website, Facebook, Twitter, or some form of contact to connect so they can get your new email.

It’s no secret I love my Apple devices. I use apps, search the web, do my reading, check my email, watch music videos, listen to podcasts, check the news, surf social media, basically do it all effortlessly and so very easily. iOS and Mac OS X has become the hub of my digital universe. It’s funny, from using MobileMe and now iCloud, I have actually been turning more and more of the cloud features on. The last one not turned on was iCloud email. Like most people I had created an iCloud email to use iMessage, but I figured, why not go all the way, and make things easier by just using an iCloud address for my main email. iCloud email has been fast, automatically configured, ad free, not privacy invasive, and provides a clean interface on my Apple devices as well as on the web. I’m sticking with it for now.

switching to apple icloud email from gmail outlook yahoo hotmail

The iPad 4 (iPad with Retina display) and iPad mini are both becoming powerful tools for professional photographers. Especially for post-production out in the field, the iPad’s low cost, speedy graphics and powerful processor make it a key part of any photographers toolkit. Ben Long has written up a great piece for Creative Pro on workflow techniques and software/hardware options. Worth a read if you are a photographer who wants to integrate the Apple iPad into your own photo workflow.


Ben Long – iPad Photo Workflow

How important is marketing your business on the web? Very important. But it really takes 4 steps, 4 different levels of content creation to keep things rolling. On this episode of Ask Franklin we discuss the OPAC (Original, Produced, Archived, Consistent) method of producing content to keep new and current clients / fans engaged.

Watch on YouTube – 4 Easy Steps to Promoting Your Business Online and Keeping Clients and Fans Engaged

4 Easy Steps to Promoting Your Business Online and Keeping Clients and Fans Engaged

Jim Carrey’s new movie The Incredible Burt Wonderstone looks great, but this may be even cooler. I am not sure exactly how I stumbled upon this, I believe it may have been through Twitter, but I recently discovered actor Jim Carrey’s official website. Expecting to see either a long outdated site or some sort of cookie cutter web presence, I was delighted to find a weird, engrossing, creative, haunting, funny and bizarre presentation. It does require Flash and some good speakers, but take it for a spin. And don’t be afraid to click around, the devil is in the details…

jim carrey incredible burt wonderstone new website

Jim Carrey – Official Site

The new and improved Facebook has arrived. We’ve talked about a new Facebook Redesign concept before, how to sign up for the new Facebook Graph Search, and how to get the new Facebook Phone App Messenger, but this will probably cause the biggest reaction: the Facebook News Feed is getting a complete design overhaul. The new look will be more centered around images, with bigger photos as well as a streamlined look and feel that will finally match Facebook’s mobile versions.

So how do you get it?

The new Facebook design is already rolling out, but if you want to skip ahead to the front of the line, just click the Join Waiting List button on the new features info page and you’ll be notified when you can take it for a spin. Have fun!

new facebook redesign concept

Facebook: New Facebook Redesign 2013

android malware virus  report 2013 chart

Android malware is now at a record high. If you are not sure what malware is, you can get a very good description from Wikipedia:

Malware, short for malicious (or malevolent) software, is software used or created by attackers to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems. It can appear in the form of code, scripts, active content, and other software. ‘Malware’ is a general term used to refer to a variety of forms of hostile or intrusive software.

In short, it’s a computer virus usually created by hackers, with the mission to compromise or steal your data.

Techcrunch is reporting, via security specialists F-Secure, that not only is malware running at record levels on Android, it spiked up to 96% in the last quarter of 2012 as far as penetration. Android accounted for 79% of all mobile malware in 2012, 96% In Q4 alone. That means of all the mobile malware out there, 96% of it is on the Android platform.

Curious as to how Apple’s iOS is concerning malware? It’s currently charting at 0.7%. Of all the mobile malware, just 0.7% of it is on the iOS platform. You can see it in the chart below..but just barely.

android malware report 2012 2013

I know a lot of people who love Android love the “openness” of it, and feel that Apple, the iPhone 5 and the iTunes store is very “closed”. I have always stated that I think the closed aspect is actually the best feature of Apple’s iOS. I don’t have to worry about hackers, viruses, malware, etc. After years of struggles on Windows machines, I would not want that same type of vulnerability on my mobile device.

The openness of Android can potentiality allow all kinds of bad things to happen, and it seems like it is turning into a full scale epidemic.

Seriously, Google needs to lock this stuff down.

building a fan base likes

One thing to focus on weekly is looking at what you are contributing to the community and what you are contributing to your online legacy. Your community is your contacts online, the people you interact with, share info, help and connect with. Your legacy is your body of work, what you create, what you develop and share with your audience. Most of what you share with people should be focused on your body of work, because that is the most permanent. That will provide you the most traction for advancing your creative career.

For years I have had various websites, email newsletters and podcast/online shows going in one form or another, it has been a way to get out information and convey to an audience what I was up to. The focus on keeping people in the loop built a following which kept everyone involved. Of course I do realize that doing something like a weekly show is work, but producing content on a regular basis is key to growing your audience.

Lets put it this way: you spend two hours interacting on social networks or you spend two hours doing some blog posts, maybe a video for your fans or updating your website. Both sessions involve some work, both can be fun and both have you contributing. But the two hours in social networking can be fleeting and not very permanent. 10 comments on a variety of blogs, chats back and forth on Twitter, checking out various links and images posted on Facebook, etc. You’ll get something out of it, you may catch the attention of some people, take part in a fun conversation, maybe find some new links and that will be about it.

Now think about two hours working on a blog update or doing a new video. Once you post those, its permanent and accessible. Every person you connect with can look back at the items, at any time, for years. It builds on your previous work, it grows the body of content you are pushing out to the masses. If anyone wants to see what you are up to, popping into your website is one easy stop. If your website has not been updated in weeks, it almost appears that you have not been making progress to the interested viewer. Show what you have been up to. Try to work to keep everyone up to date.

Lets take it to an extreme. You spent a year interacting on social networks, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. You’ve made some connections, got a lot of info and contributed to the community. But a few years from now, most of those items will be long gone. Say you spent a year updating your website or blog often, daily or even weekly, with video, images, opinions, tutorials, etc. A few years, even a year from now, you’ll have an amazing body of work that anyone can access at any time. And you can look back with a lot of satisfaction, you’ll suddenly start saying “wow…I did a lot” as opposed to “where did the time go and what did I accomplish to gather interest in my own empire?”.

Look at the people you really admire online. Chances are they are pushing out content on a weekly or daily basis. Chances are even better they have a large following. They do work the social networks, but the main difference is they have become a resource. They are a landing point. They are essentially putting on a show and more people are gathering around it. I am not saying to avoid building up your Twitter streams and Facebook pages, but keep in mind, you are building traffic and an audience primarily for Twitter and Facebook. Work more on your own site, your own house. Use Twitter and Facebook as secondary tools to keep people aware of what you are up to, but the focus is best if it is on your own website and domain.

It is important to take part in the community. Digital connections are vital. But if all you have are connections and interactions, with no content, your career may be much harder to build. You may spend more time going after people and clients, as opposed to building something that brings people directly to you.

Don’t fall into the trap of being very popular on-line but struggling to keep your business afloat.

You give someone your business card, they take it home and go to your website. How big is the world you want them to explore? How compelling is it? When was it last updated?

Really start to think about building up your empire online. Your digital legacy. Try building your own house, rather than spending all your time visiting other houses.

What can you do now that can ramp things up? What have you done lately?


Which is better for storing files, iCloud or Dropbox? It’s a question that has been debated, analyzed and thought about. I figured I would offer my opinion because I see so much discussion over it.

The answer is, it totally depends on the user. But most of the time, for most of the people, iCloud is better.

Dropbox embraces the past for current computer users with years of experience, whereas iCloud is the future of file management for consumers in a Post-PC world.

So to get everyone up to speed, iCloud is the service in iOS (iPads, iPhones, iMacs, etc) that automatically syncs your documents. You edit using Pages on your iMac and it syncs to Pages on your iPad. The defining feature of iCloud when compared to Dropbox is that the documents are in a virtual “silo” per app. Meaning your Pages docs are only available in your other copies of Pages, on your other Apple devices. Your Keynote presentations on your Mac sync to your Keynote app on your iPad. It all works seamlessly in the background.

Dropbox is different. It is a folder on your hard drive that syncs to a virtual folder than in turn syncs to another folder on another device you have. Basically it is a large folder “in the cloud” that apps can tie in to and you can have on most all your devices and computers. It is the most flexible and least inventive. iCloud is the most inventive and least flexible.

So if you are a computer geek who has been working with computers for decades, of course you will like Dropbox, since it is almost exactly what you have been using for years. You can create folders, move stuff around, mix different types of files, whatever you want. But in the end, it is merely a virtual folder that works just like, well a folder. It requires organizing, management and works like a dusty old file system from the 80’s.

Apple is aiming to do away with file systems. I agree that this is the best path. Tablets and computers should do the heavy lifting and make things easy for you. You should not need a degree in computers to operate any device these days. If you ask a new computer user on a PC where all their files are, they may not be too sure. But if you built in a system where docs sync automatically between devices and were available right in the program, they may have an answer for you.

In the end, phasing out file systems is the best plan for consumers. Again, not computer nerds, but for the general public. No one wants to do housekeeping with files and folders, especially on a tablet. Apple has done a terrific job with services such as iCloud and Photo Stream, you create something, it syncs to all your other Apple devices. End of story. PC and Android users are infuriated by this lack of control and often don’t see the benefits of the automation. There is also a trust issue, letting your content sync and backup automatically instead of manually doing it yourself. But sometimes to be free, you need to let go.

Google and Microsoft are not taking the automatically syncing content in apps road, they are just developing Dropbox clones (Google Drive and SkyDrive respectively) so Apple has a wide head start with their concept of eliminating file systems. It’s also important to note that iCloud is not done. It’s an evolving (and fairly new) platform that will continue to grow. This year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) will no doubt bring even more features and options to extend the platform.

So all the computer users who have been using file systems for years are clamoring for Apple to develop a Dropbox clone. Spoiler alert: they won’t. They won’t set back years of iCloud development to create a file system folder-based syncing drop box. They had one for MobileMe, called iDisk, and they canned it. Anything can happen, but I anticipate iCloud getting more and more robust, staring at file system management in its rearview mirror.

One final note that is not often brought up. Using iCloud for files is completely voluntary. You can bypass it and save to your desktop or folder or Dropbox or wherever, at any time.

In the end, Apple will leverage iCloud to make it’s software and hardware easier and easier to use. Where you are a creator rather than a manager. It’s the best solution for a Post-PC world and the best option for consumers and new users of Apple products. And someday, it may be the best option for you as well.

VFX production company Framestore has produced a new commercial for Galaxy Chocolate, starring a completely digital Audrey Hepburn. Reportedly the son of the actress sold the rights for her image to appear in the commercial, saying that his mother would be happy with the digital tribute. It’s pretty cool that we may be moving past the uncanny valley to a day when computer generated stars can carry a commercial, TV show or film. It is a nicely produced piece, and hats off to Framestore for the production quality.

720p HD YouTube Version: Galaxy – Audrey Hepburn

digital audrey hepburn commercial video

How important are colors when creating a website, or branding your business, or developing marketing material? Very important actually. In this video I will discuss color theory and how important it is to pick the correct color theme for whatever you are creating. I’ll also show a beautiful website for creating your own color schemes for free.

YouTube Link – How to Use Color Theory for Web Design, Branding and Marketing

Learn - How to Use Color Theory for Web Design, Branding and Marketing

Color Scheme Designer

amazon-vs-netflix streaming video battle winner

Amazon and Netflix have locked into a battle to be the premiere streaming service. Who will win? It may come down to exclusives and other variables, including original programming. Here is a feature article I wrote this week for Broadcast Engineering Magazine that breaks it down and dives into the details. Aside from fragmentation, we may all be the winners:

Amazon vs. Netflix – The Battle for Content Has Begun

creative secret of life tips advice just ask

What do you want in life, and how do you get it? See, it did not take long for me to reveal the secret of life here on the blog. Actually this is a common theme that will come up often in my posts and there are a few more secrets that are tent poles, supporting your creative and business life, but this one is probably one of the most important. You may do a lot of self help or self development, or research business ideas, or work on building your empire or creative shop, and if so, this is one tip you don’t want to miss.

If you want something, just ask.

Creative artists are sometimes wired to be a little more demure than other people. You may be more focused on your craft, work and brand, and spend less time asking people for favors. But the key is to not be shy about it. Lots of successful people I know ask me for things often. I look at it as an opportunity to help and welcome it. I can’t help everyone all the time, but I do try to do my best.

Lets take photographers. When ramping up a photography career, you’ll often see a creative artist who is really focused on photographing events, people and other subjects. But so often they grumble about the lack of money that the work is bringing in. Sometimes they don’t see the value they provide. Or they once asked a few times for money, got shot down, and decided not to bring it up again with anyone. Of course they would do it for free because they love it, but it’s quite compelling to do something you love and get paid as well.

Professionals do this too. Even a seasoned pro with a successful operation will often be a bit shy about asking for the sale. They have lined up a great proposal, worked to get a client interested and then often leave it to them to let them know. Asking for the sale is important. It’s a black and white question. It’s probably more aggressive than you may be comfy with, but asking in general is a path to getting what you want and need.

I actually happen to know a few “serial askers”, really these are people who ask everyone for everything. I am floored by how much people do for them. Even more amazing is everyone is not grumbling, they are happy to help because the people are grateful to have the support. These people know what they lack and know to ask for help to fill in the needs.

Getting help is another main area. Most creative projects take resources. If you are planning anything it helps to have people involved. You may think people are too busy or may not be interested, but believe me, you may be surprised who steps up to help you in your mission. This can apply to your income as well. You may work at an agency and not be making the amount you think you should, or not as much as your peers. Ask for a raise, it can’t hurt and it merely will convey that you are on the rise and want more, as opposed to having your head down behind the monitor and quietly settling. Being a creative director for years, I was always impressed with the employees who worked for me who wanted more. I always thought to myself that these were the people on the rise who were going to make it.

Asking really is an art form that few master, but the ones that do have a lot of abundance. They are surrounded with people willing to help, they have the support they need in many areas, they have moved to higher steps not because they waited to be asked, but because they advanced the effort to move forward.

Ben Franklin said if you ever want to make a friend, ask them to do you a favor. Don’t limit asking to just your inner circle, journey out of your group of friends and ask new people to help, contribute and assist you in your path to what you need. The more comfy you get with asking, the better you get at it, the more you ask, the more you can receive.

I always tell people, “How do you get anything you want in life?”


Are you comfy with asking? Have you been waiting to ask someone something but have been hesitating? What have you asked for lately?


Sony officially announced the Playstation 4 this week at a two hour press conference. Was it worth the wait? It was more a preview of a preview, this year’s E3 will be the proper launch, so this one was designed to built up excitement for the PS4 that is expected to be shipping this 2013 holiday season.

Sony’s direction may be a little unclear at this point, and in the past it has been influenced strongly by the competition. When Nintendo was riding high with the Wii, Sony developed the Move controller, leading to lots of games where you need to stand and wave around a small orb-like device. They cite big sales numbers for Move, but I have yet to purchase one, and I am a gamer. Sony with the PS4 showed off an advanced version of the PlayStation Eye, which seems a reaction to the success Microsoft’s Xbox has had with the Kinect. The new PS4 DualShock 4 controller has a share button as well as a touchpad, with the influence there being perhaps social media and tablets. Sony has done a very good job incorporating social media and sharing with the PS Vita, so it’s not surprising to see the PS4 also be immersed in the same. The PS4 specs are very impressive, I am sure the new unit will run rings around the PS3:

Main Processor

Single-chip custom processor
CPU: x86-64 AMD “Jaguar,”

8 cores 
GPU: 1.84 TFLOPS, AMD next-generation Radeon based graphics engine


Hard Disk Drive

Optical Drive (read-only)

Super-Speed USB (USB 3.0) AUX
Communication Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T)
IEEE 802.11b/g/n
Bluetooth 2.1 (EDR)

AV output
Analog AV-out
Digital Output (optical)

Several games were announced (including Diablo 3 for Playstation 4, very exciting) and many tech demos were shown, including some cool 3D sculpting technology from Media Molecule. But nothing really earth-shattering (yet). Also the unit itself was not shown. That’s right, at the PS4 event, we did not see a PS4. Some questions such as 4K support were left unanswered, but its many months until Holiday 2013, so there is still time.

I will say watching the press conference was kind of a pain. Instead of streaming the conference from the main PS3 interface, you had to go into Playstation Home on the unit and watch. Also instead of being available on YouTube, the press conference was available with new partner UStream, leaving those to watch it later having to view a non-scannable streaming version you could only watch from the beginning.

In the end, it was exciting to see the beginning of the next generation of consoles. But not extra exciting. Many of the games were sequels from the same developers who have been trotting out the same type of games for years. I did not see much next-gen ideas in the two hour show, and others had noticed the same. But if that is what is selling, and it certainly is, then we’ll be in that mode for a while. The graphics looked very advanced, and it will be great to see extra effects and definition added to new games. The PS4 is more in line with PC hardware now, which should make game development easier than the challenging Cell CPU of the PS3.

Microsoft gets to make its move at E3 with its new Xbox (which may be called Xbox Next or Xbox 720) so it will be interesting to see their take. Sony stressed a lot of “making things simple” with the PS4, and every demo of their interface did indeed look like it was easier to use and navigate. Perhaps taking some tips from Apple’s style on interface design with their iOS iPads and iPhones. Microsoft has done several Dashboard updates in the past few years with Xbox and seems committed to harder, more complex and a bear to navigate interfaces, so I see the new Xbox being an even bigger nest of menus upon menus leading to more menus. They may never learn.

In the end I am excited about Sony’s PlayStation 4. They seem to be thinking beyond conquering the “digital living room” which has been the battle cry up until now for other companies. Everyone wants their device to take control of the living room, but there is a lot more to our digital lives than that one room. And Sony seems to be getting that. I am interested to see how they follow up at E3 this year.

UPDATE: PlayStation 4 Demo of Killzone: Shadow Fall from yesterday’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

720p version – PlayStation 4 Demo of Killzone: Shadow Fall – Late Night with Jimmy Fallon – 1080p version available on YouTube

project google glass demo video HD

What is Google Glass? It very well could be the next generation of personal communication devices, perhaps even replacing your phone. Google is developing glasses that do much of what a smartphone does now, record video, take pictures, Google and connect/share with others. The device was announced last year and is becoming closer to release this year. In fact, Google just opened up the pre-order program to creative individuals via its #ifihadglass page, so jump in while you can. The cost is around $1500, which actually seems rather reasonable considering the advanced technology. The website has info on what it does, and check out the video for a look at what it’s like to be behind the lens of Google Glass.

HD Version 720p – Google Glass Demo

UPDATE: Joshua Topolsky from the Verge tries them out


Google is creating a new technology to compete again Apple TV’s AirPlay feature, and both companies are focused on moving content from your tablet to the big TV. But this is only the beginning. Here is a new article I wrote this week for Broadcast Engineering Magazine that shows how the battle lines for the living room are beginning to take shape:

Google vs. Apple – The Race to Push Video to Your TV

how to shoot dslr web videos canon


Looking for the best DSLR camera and need one for web video? There is no reason not to have great looking web videos with today’s low cost technology, it all comes down to choosing the right gear. Unfortunately one thing I see a lot of these days is fairly bad web video. Often I see professionals on the web who spend a lot of work on branding themselves and then flip on their built-in webcam to record something. Either their laptop webcam or their iMac webcam, using the built in mic, it’s just too bad, because you are immediately judged on your video quality.  But there is hope! Want to get your web videos in better shape? Here is an edition of Ask Franklin where I discuss what I like for cameras (spoiler alert, it’s Canon) and also how to get great looking web video (and audio) from a DSLR.

Oh I also talk about shades of grey, a hot topic I know ;)

HD Version 720p – How to Use a DSLR Camera for Shooting Great Web Videos

xbox 720 next future

Great commentary by Nat Brown (link below) one of the original Xbox team members, on how Microsoft has handled the past few years. While the Xbox console had continued to be a success and signs point to a next generation Xbox being announced this year, it will be interesting to see how MS deals with many things coming up fast in its rear view mirror, including most notably Apple and Apple TV. It’s also worth noting how iOS gives power to the people (developers) to grow the system, while Microsoft is still being run by old media partnerships and big budget first person shooters, with little infusion from quality indie producers.

I’ve enjoyed the Xbox consoles for years, but the current incarnation is definitely more Windows than Apple-like. Each dashboard update features miles of nested tiles which takes forever to do or find anything as opposed to Apple’s refined simplicity. Content is from huge companies with minimal innovation (here comes another FPS) as opposed to a rich indie landscape of cutting edge creative developers. Most annoying is the loading on everything, from games, to videos to the interface. I am hoping the Xbox 720 or whatever it’s going to be called corrects a lot of the current issues. I am also not a big fan of Microsoft milking the Xbox brand into everything from phones to Windows 8 now. But it is a winning brand, so I could hardly blame them for capitalizing on their years of work. In reality it still is the best and best-selling console on the market now. But what happens going forward with Xbox Next?

Check out the link below for some interesting perspective on the pivatol years ahead.

Stupid, Stupid xBox!!

green girl portland maine career

It could not be simpler. Look at your circle of work, creative and business related contacts. The people you socialize with in person, at mixers, meetings, etc. Are you the top dog? Having more talent, drive and ambition than the others? Or are you on the other end? Often working hard to keep up career-wise, constantly trying to figure out successful people, seeing others ramp up financially and with much more abundance than yourself. Believe it or not, this is where to be, trying to catch up. It will prompt you to remain in motion as opposed to being content.

Think of it as surfing. You’re the top guy, you are the big wave. People around you want to catch it, move up to your level. It’s a great feeling of satisfaction, and you’ll often be showered with praise, but may feel stagnant suddenly, with little incentive around you to move on to bigger and better levels. The other side is you are in shallow water, wanting to catch a wave, and looking to see who can push you in a higher direction.

Want to be a big time blogger? Hang out with and connect with successful bloggers. Can’t wait to launch your own TV show? Be around people who have really done it in broadcast already. Want to ramp up in your music skills? Be around expert musicians, connect with those way above your skill set. You’ll learn a lot and the wave will sweep you up into not only achieving higher levels but wanting higher levels. If you are constantly around people who started a blog but never continued, always dreamed of a TV show and who are interested in music, but do not have the time to focus on it, well similar scenarios will probably happen to you.

Attitude is important too. Be around those who have the right attitude. Those who are positive and don’t bad-mouth others, are big dreamers, enjoy successful careers and are inspiring to be around are the best. Know that you will likely feel uncomfortable being around these overachievers, but stick with it and watch for waves. Being around those underachieving will be immensely more comfortable, often more fun and will stroke your ego in much more satisfying ways, but will ultimately provide little direction and movement for you. Leading to months (or years) of possible personal and professional stagnation.

So make sure who you want to be is close around you. And if they are not in too much contact, work hard to increase that contact. Those who are not interested in achieving, growing and advancing their empire, don’t ditch them all, just dial their involvement in your life down a bit.

Reorganizing your social palette can dramatically redesign your career path. Just decide on the balance of how dedicated you need to be to current contacts moving slowly and how much you want to infuse your life with more advanced connections that will move your career and life dramatically forward.

– Franklin McMahon
Visit Me on Google+


When building your career, having inspiration is something that could not be more pivotal. Having momentum, goals and plans of course will keep us pushing forward. But having inspiration, keeps us pushing upwards.

The lack of inspiration on a weekly or daily basis has a domino effect, if we are not pushing upward, striving to hit that next level, we sometimes are sliding backward. We may be busy with work and projects, but we are staying stagnant on the same level.

Inspiration can come in many forms. Success often occurs through patterns, modeling and habits. If you look to someone for inspiration, you start to model some of what you do after them, you see clear patterns that have worked for these people and you pick up on their habits.

Some look to others for guidance and occasional inspiration and some become intensive students, almost obsessively, reading, watching and listening to everything a person produces, while taking lots and lots of notes.

In our work week we often are slammed with projects, pulled in numerous directions and can feel drained. After work we just want to relax, leaving little time or energy to actually look for some inspiring material. Or it could be the opposite, work has been slow, clients are few. But instead of learning new habits and gaining more and more inspiration, you may be just learning some new tools or doing some networking or looking for work.

Being immersed in inspiration is like working out. Except instead of exercising your body you are flexing and working out your mind. Charging it with possibilities. And like working out, you need to dive into inspiration weekly or daily. Make time for it, because it is vitally important.

Once you really start to become a student of others who have succeeded, you start to realize that you can accomplish a lot of these same goals as well.

As for me, my inspiration pool is pretty vast and deep. Off the top of my head I have followed, and continue to follow, Stephen R. Covey (8th Habit), Anthony Robbins, Timothy Ferriss (4-Hour Work Week) and David Allen (Getting Things Done). Pick up practically anything by these fab four and you will get mountains of inspiration, great tools and fantastic habits. Start with a Google and YouTube search.

A lot of people love the web and find they get a lot of inspiration from it. My advice is to unplug from the web, find a good author and read their current book or listen to their audiobook with pad in hand. Off the web and at a place you can relax and not get distracted, a place to absorb and learn.

I also have a lot of people in my personal and professional life who I gain a lot of inspiration from. Being around them is always a good thing.

Think of people in your life who you feel inspire you, and grab a coffee with them this week. Keep the inspiration in your life growing. Constantly look for books and materials that will keep you inspired and thinking about possibilities. The more you have, the higher you will reach. Make time daily or weekly for this inspiration, work out your mind and really start to flex it. If you have no time for inspiration then you may have no time to grow, personally and professionally.

So my question to you is…who inspires you?

– Franklin McMahon
Visit Me on Google+

surface pro bad reviews

The first batch of reviews for Microsoft’s Surface with Windows 8 Pro are hitting online and the results are not good. While the reviews of Surface RT was certainly mixed, many had higher hopes for this new Pro tablet, but almost every reviewer has been disappointed on several points. The Surface Pro is thicker, heavier, more expensive, includes an audible fan (yes a tablet with a fan), has poor battery life and the operating system chews up a large chunk of the included storage according to reviews. It’s not all bad news, as they note that the screen is gorgeous, the build quality is first rate and the unit runs Windows 8 software nice and fast.

But there are many issues discussed including the fact that battery life clocks in at under 4 hours quite often, not acceptable in the era of 10 hour iPad with Retina workhorses. Also problematic is the fact that Windows is built for large screen monitors, so Microsoft has to scale up the interface to be touch friendly in Windows 8 on a tablet, causing the elements to become blurry. Almost all the reviews state that as a tablet its too large and heavy, and as a laptop it is too hard to use on your lap. The unit also comes with a stylus just to add one more element to the mix.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time with the Surface RT tablet, and I have Windows 8 Pro running on two different iMacs for testing in content creation. I actually like the Metro interface from a design standpoint, at some point I will write up a review here on it. There is a steeper learner curve but there is potential. Unfortunately the nice Metro interface clashes with the old Windows desktop all too often, making Windows 8 a really confusing mix as far as usability.

But when it comes to tablets it seems Microsoft is throwing everything into it (stylus, touch screen, new OS, old OS, laptop, etc) trying to be everything and making no one happy. Apple started from scratch and left OS X to build iOS, a dedicated operating system refined and optimized for mobile. It won big obviously with this strategy. Microsoft should also start from scratch (although it’s probably too late) and focus on creating a top notch tablet OS and experience while also advancing separately its laptop/desktop OS. Trying to be everything to everyone, and dragging along the Windows baggage, is seemingly turning off potential new fans. And that is exactly where Microsoft needs to win people over.

Take a look at the reviews, all very interesting. I am curious to see where Microsoft goes from here.

Microsoft Surface Pro gets tough early reviews – Reuters

Surface Pro: Hefty Tablet Is a Laptop Lightweight – All Things Digital

Microsoft Surface with Windows 8 Pro: Hotter, Thicker, Faster, Louder – Ars Technica

Microsoft Surface Pro review – The Verge

Microsoft Surface Pro Review – AnandTech

Microsoft Surface Pro Review – Engadget

Microsoft Surface Pro Review: A Tablet/Laptop Hybrid With Compromises – ABC News

Microsoft Surface Pro review – Cnet

– by Franklin McMahon / Franklin McMahon Studio

It looks like it’s going to be another gadget-filled year in 2013. The Wall Street Journal, and many other places, are saying that Sony will announce its new PS4 during a press event on February 20th. So far they have released a video teaser which does not show much of anything except some lightening bolts, but all signs point to a new Playstation unit coming out for this holiday season.

Microsoft is also reportedly prepping its new next-gen console for this year, some are calling it the Xbox 720, and it is likely it will be announced at E3, the 2013 Electronics Entertainment Expo, this June. No videos of suspicious looking lightening bolts have been released from Microsoft, but I will certainly keep you posted.

I’ve been a gamer for decades now, skewing more towards RPG games such as Skyrim and Final Fantasy XIII-2, as well as racing games like the Burnout / NFS series from Criterion Games. I don’t play FPS games, however I am making a recent exception and working through Pandora in the excellent Borderlands 2. I am constantly amazed at the high level of art direction, depth and digital storytelling in video games that occurs on the present generation consoles, so I am very interested to see what is in store via these new next-generation consoles.

borderlands 2


It’s totally OK to be a little on edge. You may go through phases where you are very stressed and worried about every aspect of your creative career. On the other side, you may have times where everything is going just perfect. Completely calm and flowing excellent. These two ends of the spectrum do have their long term drawbacks however.

If you are completely stressed and worried all the time it can signal a few things. The main item is there needs to be changes that perhaps you are not making. Maybe you want more clients, but rather than focus on marketing, you loose yourself in busy work. Checking the web, chatting online, working on projects that are not on the path to your goals, anything you can do to take your mind off the real issues.

Or perhaps you have too much work, you are taking on an enormous amount yourself and not getting help. You are focused on deadlines and being overwhelmed, rather than the quality of the projects.

On the other side, things could be going great. Everything is in place, all systems are working fine. Your empire is sailing along, clients are happy, work is being produced. It sounds all well and good until boredom sets in.

You start to become apathetic because the challenges are not as great, the momentum you had is just not there anymore. You are doing the same thing as you did last year and feel like you will be doing the same thing next year.

Stressed out and overworked is not good. And often things going fine with no changes, challenges or momentum is not good either.

The middle ground is getting a little nervous. Just a touch of things not being completely perfect, an edge of uncertainty that keeps things spicy. It’s a delicate balance to be in the middle, but it’s often not a bad place to be. You are succeeding and confidently enjoying your success, but you have an eye towards what happens next, what will be the next big challenge, little slices of unknown that are mixed in to keep things interesting.

You will strive to have your empire working perfect but there will always be things that crop up, some of these items will be in your control and some will not be. But it’s OK to be in the middle ground, it’s a mix of accomplishment and challenge. That friction has launched many successful creative enterprises. Losing that friction could be running on an empty tank in either direction, stressed or serene.

Creative artists sometimes tend to hit the extremes. You may be overworked and totally slammed with clients and productions, stuff is being accomplished but the process is scattered, somewhat disorganized and not very satisfying. Or you may be smoothly coasting, not a lot of pressure but also pretty much flatlining without preparation or planning for the future. No ramping up.

Get nervous. Get more in the middle. Strike a balance between solid productive work with an eye towards advancing in the future. Media artists who are in the zone love what they do, embrace their market and the people they work with. They get a lot of satisfaction and look forward to new challenges. And they are growing. They are not stressed with work they don’t enjoy and they are not overly worried about scarcity or what may happen next. They have balance.

Where are you? Stressed? Flatlining? Nervous? Balanced?


Cage Rattle Tuesday! Actually it doesn’t have to be a Tuesday, but a great business technique is to plan one day a week to check in with some of your contacts, rattle their cages. Why? Because most of the opportunities that happen will come from keeping yourself on the minds of others.

If you are like most entrepreneurs and creative producers, you network in person, make connections on the web, add peeps to your address book and have stacks of business cards. If you initially follow up with people, you may leave it as a “let’s keep in touch, I am sure there are some things we can collaborate on”. Perhaps then the weeks go by, maybe months, and there is no contact. The other person has dropped off your radar and you have dropped off theirs. But try to reboot the connection.

You could come up with a list, nothing fancy, just a list of people you want to revisit. I have a few categories in my management software named “brewing” and “connect”. Brewing is for projects and people that are more simmering, we may not have an immediate plan to collaborate, but down the line there may be some stuff. I also have a connect category, which are people I have met online or in person. Initially there may be no immediate reason to be in contact, but I do like to check in with them periodically to see what they are up to.

If you mark on your calendar to once a week go through your contacts and just rattle a few cages, you may be quite amazed at the response. You could hear “oh I was thinking about contacting you recently” or “I wanted to get your advice on something”, often they will be glad you are back on their radar. You may hear of a new project they have coming up that you both could collaborate on. If nothing else you’ll get a scope of their current projects.

Everyone is usually working on so many different things that if you don’t talk to someone for a whole month, you miss a ton of developments. Developments that could, or should, include you.

So…are you a cage rattler?


There is a big difference between a brand and a service, a brand is more of a story and a service is more of a task. So when you do networking with potential clients, how do you describe yourself? Do you stick to talking about the task? I have always disliked the term “freelance”, I always prefer that people position themselves as a company, even if it is just them. But freelancers, especially when they are just starting out, often stick to just describing the tasks they do. For example if they do web work, they will mention they can do all the coding, host the site on a server and maintain the site on an ongoing basis. They sometimes just stick to the technical side, just the facts. The problem is they have no leverage. Another person could describe the same exact thing. Just rattle off the list of tasks. There is no compelling reason to go with you as opposed to the other person. Even if you both do good work, it is tougher for the client to choose, and then it becomes more of a coin toss.

A brand on the other hand, has some depth to it. It puts the technical side in the background and puts the human side up front. Describing your brand and what you do becomes more cozy and inviting. You could describe how what you love to do is help companies achieve their goals and grow their brand. You work to put the best elements of what the company does out in front. You discuss how things will be marketed, best use of design to get the main message across, what kind of feeling should people get when they discover the new website, new ideas to keep the site fresh and inviting, and so on. You are still, in the end, creating a website. But you are describing it in personal terms. You are also highlighting what makes you different from the competition.

Is your brand just a service? Do you describe it in technical terms or human terms?

firefox phone OS debut shipping launch

Not sure if we need another mobile phone OS or perhaps something new would be fun to shake things up, but Firefox, yes the Mozilla web peeps, have announced a new Firefox OS that is based on HTML 5. Apps would actually be based on HTML5, the current standard for web pages. They will begin shipping developer preview phones, so if you want to get a jump on producing for this new platform, now is the time. Their website has info on their Firefox OS App Days and how to get started creating an app. It will be very interesting to see how this develops, and how it shapes up compared to Windows Phone, Google’s Android, Samsung’s Galaxy line and of course Apple’s iPhone. We shall see…

Announcing the Firefox OS Developer Preview Phone

I’ve been curious about Squarespace for quite a while. I’ve used every blogging platform I think, and Squarespace has been popping up on my radar lately. Chris Armstrong does a nice overview on Squarespace 6, the latest version. He especially likes the new support for link blogs, which is something I am interested in as well. I just signed up for a two week trial, so we’ll see how it goes, I’ll give it a spin.

Squarespace 6: The Review – The Industry

surface tablet phone redesign 2013

Andrew Kim does a blog called Minimally Minimal where he discusses various topics such as design, reviews and various hardware, such as (one of my favs) the iPad mini.

Last summer he created a page that outlined a potential new design direction for Microsoft. The design went viral over the web and while Microsoft had other plans for a Windows redesign, they did take notice, because they just hired him to work in the Xbox division.

Always important to remember how level a playing field the internet provides, and how pushing your work out of the nest and towards the general public can often lead to the next big thing in your career.

I’ve read dozens of articles explaining how Apple and Android are competing on smartphones and tablets, and this piece by Kate MacKenzie does a fine job of distilling it down to just the facts. While high-fiving Android fans point to market share, Apple is rolling along with huge profits, high usage percentage and billions in iOS developer revenue. Very interesting article that breaks it down simply.

How Apple Is Destroying Android From The Inside Out (and why it’s difficult to see) | Mac360


This is something I have been thinking about a lot. So last year I got the iPhone 5 and like most people, I loved it. It was fast, looked great, and the slightly larger screen along with the retina display make it awesome to look at. It also feels good to hold, the form factor is perfect for one handed use.

I also had purchased the Samsung Galaxy Note II last year. Now as far as the Android OS goes, I find most varieties of it fairly lacking. I do like Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and the optimization that Google did with Android 4.1 via Jelly Bean, as far as a phone operating system, it is OK. I just find iOS on Apple a much richer, smoother and with iCloud, a more cohesive experience. Especially between all my iOS iDevices. Also there are so many flavors and varieties of Android, there is not too much consistency happening. I’ve purchased many different Android and iOS devices in the past year, and when you own both platforms, the differences, strengths and weaknesses, are pretty clear. Owning so many devices, perhaps I have some sort of technology addiction to tablets and phones, but we’ll leave that discussion to another time.

So most important to note, the Google Play app store is fairly behind the iOS App Store. Not in terms of volume, but quality. Many iOS apps are state of the art, with many being best of breed and the top developers in the world publish on it. Using both systems there is just no comparison, Apple’s iOS app store is First Class, and Google Play’s selection is more like flying coach. Again, Google has made great strides in developing the Android OS, but I find the app developer community more of a mixed bag.

So getting back to the Samsung Galaxy Note II, regardless of the Android OS, this unit is a fast device with a large beautiful screen. The quad cord processor and the spacious HD Super AMOLED 1,280 x 720 screen are a real treat. Yes it is clunky and big to put up to your ear (earphones are recommended) but for a large screen unit that is very portable, it’s very, very nice.


The issue arises when people go in to buy a phone, once you display the more compact iPhone 5 next to the bigger (and getting bigger) Android screens, people need to make a choice. The very polished iOS with the high resolution Retina screen or the larger Android units. Apple has definitely designed a nice phone that works great in one hand and with an operating system that can’t be beat. But I wonder how it will fair long term with the larger screens displayed next to it in a phone store.

So I hoped Apple would make a larger iPhone device, something with a 5 or 5.5 screen. Large luxurious screen real estate, something where you would have the compact portability, but also have the OS and apps nice and big. Then the iPad mini came out, which is great on multiple levels. And while it is bigger than a 5 inch unit, it still is svelte and thin enough to be comfortably held and used with one hand. So that has satisfied my need (for now) for an iOS device that was super portable. Still a 5 inch or 5.5 inch iPhone would be nice to have as an option. I do realize that Apple presumably did a lot of studying in the labs, and decided that the 4 inch screen was the best of both worlds, small enough to still be a phone, but larger than previous models.

But I am curious to see if they will fill the gap between the current iPhone 5 and the iPad mini. The iPad mini really can’t get much smaller concerning iPad apps, but a 5 inch device that runs native iOS iPhone apps, either a phone or a sort of new merging of devices, would be interesting to see. Whatever happens, Apple may need to address the growing screen sizes from competitors sooner rather than later. I have seen with my Samsung Galaxy Note II that a larger size phone-tablet can be a great device, as long as it has a great operating system.

Time will tell, and we’ll probably see an iPhone 5S at some point this year, but it would be fun to see a larger iPhone someday.

facetime video calls free mobile messenger

With so many rumors swirling about how Facebook is developing a new mobile phone, it’s surprising to realize that it actually is already here. And free. Just download the Facebook Messenger app for iOS if you don’t have it already. You’ll notice a new feature added this week allowing you to now call your Facebook friends for free over wi-fi. Right now it works on Apple’s iPhone for iOS, but we’re sure to see it for other platforms like Android soon. ZDnet and The Verge have already posted some good info on it, and as more and more people discover the feature, the potential could be huge. In fact since the Facebook website already allows you to make video calls, it won’t be too long before a serious competitor to Skype and Apple’s Facetime could be appearing on your mobile device. A mobile video phone from Facebook does not seem all that far off. So next time I see you on Facebook, call me..maybe…

When is it time to stop networking? When it no longer is working for you. Networking, meaning in person, runs a spectrum from uneasy to comfy. You may attend a regular networking event for the first time and you may be a little apprehensive. Lots of people you don’t know, the location is unfamiliar, you have to make fairly cold introductions.

But you get to know people and it becomes easier. In fact, perhaps you attend the meet or function on a regular basis. You have now gone to it for months and you know everyone. You have made a lot of great connections, gotten new clients, but now it’s more like meeting with your friends.

This is when the networking can stop being efficient. Now that it is comfy and you know pretty much everyone, you know their story, you have gotten contacts, it can become dramatically less productive. Granted it still will be fun, but don’t automatically count it as “networking time”. It is at this point when you may need to move to a new group, one where you don’t know people and it takes a while to connect with everyone.

Your networking should always be rebooted periodically. It is very easy to get into comfy grooves. But when you find you are spending 3 nights a week meeting with your (now) friends “networking”, you may notice your new client opportunities have slowed to a crawl. It may be time to mix it up a bit. Find a new group, look for a different event or opportunity. Expand your range. You’ll be amazed when you hit a new group that you suddenly make a lot of new contacts and acquire a new batch of potential clients.

If your current focus has run its course, it’s time to shift it.

How can you move out of your networking comfort zone? Can you find at least one completely new event to attend this month?

Want to learn how to take awesome portraits? Photographing people is a lot of fun and if you set up to do a shoot with someone, there are a few tricks that I use in my photography and commercial work that can give your pics some extra zip. Most are pretty easy and take just a little preplanning.


1. Use a Flash with the Sun at their Back

This is my secret technique, actually, perhaps it is not such a secret now. Outdoors when the sun is out, there is a tendancy to turn the flash off and aim people towards the sun. This typically results in flat pictures where the subject is squinting. Not very appealing. Try turning your flash on, I know it’s daylight, and spinning your subject so their back is to the sun. You’ll get a nice fill flash on the front while providing beautiful backlit sun rays highlighting the hair and outline of the body. Make sure you are not too close with the flash, better to move back a bit and zoom in, but this one technique will give your pictures a very professional look.


2. Tilt the Camera

We’ve all seen hundreds (thousands?) of pictures on Facebook, Twitter, the web and in many photo albums where the camera is aiming straight at a person standing straight. This really produces visually dull imagry. It’s as flat as a mug shot. Try tilting the camera, to the left, or to the right. Start to make the picture more engaging by not doing what viewers expect. A tilt could be subtle or dramatic, but it throws the viewer off a bit and makes them visually explore the picture more than they normally would. Having a person leaning while perhaps tilting can make for some very interesting shots.

3. Shoot at Sunset or Sundown

When the sun is high in the sky, colors and shading can be very dull and flat. But there is a twilight time, sundown is a great time, and also very early AM, where the colors and light really pop. Make the time of day work with you. When you do your first shoot leading up to sundown you’ll suddenly see hues of color that can look very dramatic. The warm tones and vibrant light can make your pictures even more dramatic.


4. Don’t be Predictable

We’ve all seen photography that is, well it’s not bad, it’s just kind of adequate. If you want your photos to stand out you need to try some things. I like to move in to the face, tight closeup, and capture a dramatic look. Add in a tilt and have the subject look off into the distance for a dreamy or mysterious look that captures the imagination. Avoid front on shots of people just sitting there smiling. Anyone can do those types of shots. Have the model or subject glance over your shoulder, close their eyes, or look up, look down, anything to add some spark. I typically will suggest some emotions (look scared, look angry, look excited, etc) and it can get very fun, and very silly, but I’ll tell you I’ve gotten many of my best shots from coaxing some “acting” out of my subjects. Many photographers sit people on a stool and snap away lifeless, stiff poses. Your pics will be nice, but flat. Get your subject moving and have them be unpredictable.

These shots of Andrienne incorporated all of these tips, using a flash with sun at her back, tilting the camera, shooting around sunset and having fun and trying some differnt looks via acting.

Next time you shoot, give these methods a try, you may be very surpised how much life you can give your photos with a few simple changes. Good luck!



Want to get in? Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg announced today a whole new search engine called Facebook Graph Search that will be far more powerful than the current search system. The video below shows how it works:

The Facebook Graph Search Beta is invite only, but you can apply to get in now.

Here is how to get the Facebook Graph Search, just go to this page:


Scroll down to the bottom and click the button under “Try Graph Search Beta” and you’ll be officially in line to try out Facebook’s next big thing.


Well the new MySpace is finally ready to swing its doors open for business. After undergoing an extensive redesign for many months, and working through a private beta, the public can kick the tires and get its first real view. The Verge has the latest on the launch. I’ll be taking a look at it too, so stay tuned.

New MySpace opens to the public alongside new Justin Timberlake single

UPDATE: I just joined back up, I am here – https://new.myspace.com/franklinmcmahon

Oddly it looks like the “classic” old MySpace does not integrate with the new version. You can log in via your old account, and retain your username, but it does not bring your friends or anything over with it. So it looks like you’ll be starting fresh. If you want to get started at all that is. No word on sparking GIF animation support so far. One other thing, for guys, if you upload an image to your profile, you must be in a suit and tie. That’s the requirement. Actually I totally made that up.

my space redesign 2013

social media 4 steps network girl

There is no doubt that the interconnected web of social media has probably produced an abundance of new contacts for you. You are connecting with more people than ever as well as conversing back and forth with many in your local area you have never discovered before. But try to take it to the next level. Go from online to in person. As well as you seem to know someone online, you could get to know them even better when you actually meet. Of course this is tricky if someone is on the other side of the world, but if someone is right in your area, or perhaps even an hour away, there are great opportunities to connect. Here are some tips on meeting in person:

1. Meet People Not In Your Industry
The common path is we gravitate to people who are doing the same things as we are. There is much to talk about and it’s always fun to trade stories. But it’s when you start to meet up with people who are not in your industry that you really begin to expand your scope. Even if there is not a lot of common ground at first, you may meet with someone who seems to be totally unrelated but you find much to discuss. This wider scope almost always provides a better pathway to success, either in the form of clients or just informational. Or even developing a new longtime friend. I have met with people and discovered entire industries I had little to no knowledge of, some of these industries I am involved in now, so you never know.

2. Meet People More Successful Than You
It’s always a mix, but set up some meets with people who are really succeeding. Being around these people on a higher level really can not only get you thinking in new directions of achievement but it also forces you to excel just to keep up. If it is a potential client, you may be surprised that they want to work with you, which may also help you ramp up your skill set in a short amount of time.

3. Don’t Just Talk Shop
It’s always good to talk about common things, but always float in a few questions aimed at finding out who the person really is. This could be hobbies, causes, interests…people are complex with lots of layers. Diving in to some off the grid conversations can really illuminate the proceedings. If all else fails you can ask them what they do for fun. Often you will be amazed at some of the things people are in to.

4. Follow Up
Keep the momentum going. There are some people who have meets all the time, one after another. Really it’s best to develop a relationship and keep the flow going, as opposed to jumping into the next meeting. You’ll find that even if you don’t have an initial connection, if you keep the conversation going and keep the person in your circle, new things will come up that had not surfaced at first. A circle of contacts is like a circle of clients, with clients you may not work with one and then jump on to the next, you probably work with many on a continuing basis, along the way discovering more about them and their needs. Do the same with contacts, focus more on getting to know them as opposed to jumping to the next one.

Every person you meet is a doorway to a whole new world. But if you run around quickly peeking into doors you’ll never get the whole story. Spend some time, expand your contacts and get to know them better, you may be amazed at what you find when you move from online networks to in person connections.


If you are looking for a great overview of CES 2013, look no further than the new Learn by Shipping blog written by Steven Sinofsky. Steven is one smart guy, formally the president of Windows development at Microsoft, he was last seen at the very high profile Microsoft Surface launch. While many tech blogs have gone the distance to be quirky, ironic and relevant when covering CES from a skewed but entertaining slant, Sinofsky offers a take distilled down to Dragnet-like “just the facts” simplicity. He goes over the trends, both downward (3D, digital cameras, video cameras, storage) and upwards (mobile, design, social integration, Moore’s Law), and it is a very interesting read on what really happened at CES 2013.

Learning by Sharing: Snark-free CES observations


The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is now history and many companies showed off a lot of great hardware. The Verge did a roundup and chose their favorite gadgets of the show. One of the gadgets that got the most buzz was the NVIDIA Project SHIELD, a handheld gaming system that runs on Android Jelly Bean and sports an NVIDIA Tegra 4 graphic processor, a full-size game controller, advanced Wi-Fi technology, and HD video and audio. Looks very cool. Last year was a big one for new gadgets, but this year could be even better.

The Verge Awards: the best of CES 2013

Love this. I had not realized Facebook needed a redesign that badly until I saw this Facebook design concept by Fred Nerby. Very slick.

Facebook – New Look & Concept

facebook graphic design redesign

UPDATE: Three things lacking in the current 2013 Facebook.com website design: white space (that was crushed out years ago), engaging typography, and posts that have a size/importance ratio. Facebook.com has everything in tiny boxes everywhere, so instead of drawing the eye to look at the most important aspects via a larger size (like a newspaper), everything is pretty much equal size on the website.

All three problems lead to very pedestrian design. A little less tinkering with “new and better privacy options” and a little more thought going into design would be a good thing.

At least they have a color scheme though. Blue in graphic design color theory signifies trust.

Yes, ironic.


Which is better? Let’s find out. I really could not decide between the iPad mini and the iPad with Retina display (also know as the New iPad or iPad 4) so I ended up getting both. Both have definate advantages with little in the way of disadvantages. Both look and perform great. I’ll still keep both, but which one do I use most often?

The iPad with Retina does have some great features that are an advance from the previous model. The new Lightening connector has been added, the stunning 2048 x 1536 screen resolution of the Retina display is the same, a new A6X chip has been added which doubles the CPU and graphics speed, the wi-fi is faster with dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) 802.11n and LTE supporting up to 150 Mbps, the same 10 hour battery life is intact and the cameras are HD on both the front and back. I’ve had every iPad made so far, and this new one is delicious. The screen is so sharp and vibrant, the wi-fi is so fast and the processor makes everything ultra speedy. The Retina model is the top of the line iPad and definatley a keeper.

The iPad mini is a whole different story. A better one. While the specs are more in line with the iPad 2 as far as speed, and the screen is a few notches below the Retina display (but still looks amazing) there is no question in my mind: this is my new go-to iPad. Even though the iPad 4 has it all (and more), the iPad mini is the one I have with me all day, it’s always close by, I take it with me and stuff it in my coat pocket, it is the iPad I always wanted even before I realized I always wanted it.

Skip the bulky cases, the iPad mini demands to be used as is. The iPad mini is so light and easy to hold, it’s much closer to a smartphone than to a tablet. In fact I use it more like a smartphone. It’s always close by and I can easily pick it up with one hand and find what I need. I can use apps, search the web, do my reading, check my email, watch music videos, listen to podcasts, check the news, surf social media, basically do it all effortlessly and so very easily. It’s hard to explain, but the size makes it so much more usable and accessible. Instead of carving out time in my day to sit down with my larger iPad, the mini is much more a part of my day.

When I first saw the screen, I did see a difference from the Retina screens I had been using. Not too much, but obviosuly not as many pixels. But after I sat down with it the first day, and I literally sat down and went several hours in one stretch just playing with the thing, the yearning for a Retina display went away. Sure it would be nice, but I now feel the display looks great. Especially when reading magazines and ebooks, it’s the perfect companion if you love to read.

So my advice would be, without question, if you are looking for an iPad, the mini is the one to get. It is so light and portable, works perfectly via iCloud to sync to other iOS Apple devices, functions just like the bigger iPad and basically is so much fun to use, that I highly recommend it. Now what if you already have a larger iPad? Flip it. Sell it and get the mini. Since the mini costs less, chances are good you can sell a larger iPad and easily cover the price. Gazelle and Nextworth are good places to sell, but ask your friends, most everyone is looking for an iPad to buy these days. If you have a Retina iPad you may have a little adjustment going to the mini screen, I recommend using the mini exclusively for a solid week, put aside the Retina unit. You’ll find at the end of the week you will be loving the smaller mini screen.

I do like the iPad Smart Cover. I use it for carrying my iPad mini but then take it off when I use the device. The iPad mini feels great in the hand. I suggest using it with no case (it’s pretty tough and durable) but if you really want to get a case, I highly recommend the Poetic SLIMLINE Portfolio Case which is great.

I am still keeping both iPads, but there is no doubt, the iPad mini is the keeper. It’s a first class piece of hardware that performs great, runs all iPad and iPhone apps and is a joy to use. It’s one of the best, or maybe the best, devices Apple has ever made.


Samsung has decided to pass. At CES, Samsung, one the hottest hardware producers of the moment, has stated that they have no plans to release a Windows RT table in the US. Windows RT is Microsoft’s new mobile operating system, available most notably on Microsoft’s Surface tablet. Samsung states that a lot of education is needed to inform consumers, but the more pressing fact is the weak demand for the Windows OS.

I feel that it’s time for Microsoft to rename their mobile operating system. OK maybe it’s too late now, but still. The baggage associated with Windows is too great. People expect anything named Windows to actually work like Windows and run Windows software, which the Windows RT OS clearly does not.

When the iPhone was launched, Steve Jobs paused during his keynote to boldly state “..and it runs Mac OS X”, which started the large auditorium bursting into applause. The only problem was, it really did not run OS X, just a stripped down version of it. The best move Apple made was to develop a new dedicated mobile OS, not long after, unveiled as iOS.

The new iOS was created for mobile and did not have the expectations of OS X. Google also started its own dedicated mobile operating system Android. While Microsoft does have a Windows Phone OS, the tablet launches have been tied to Windows, providng a different set of expectations.

With Samsung inching its way into the Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Google circle of influence, it is telling that they decided to pass on Windows RT. Anything can change, but so far it does not look promising for those looking for Samsung support.

Samsung won’t launch Windows RT tablets in the US, blames confusion and weak demand | The Verge.

Girl career measure manage tony robbins

If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Manage It.

This is one of my favorite quotes (from Tony Robbins) and one that can apply to just about anything, from career goals, to daily tasks, to projects, to new missions, to everything you want to make progress on. Athletes often write down reps at the gym, they take out a pad and note the amount of repetitive exercises they perform. For some it’s the only way to track the progress, because as you get better you can perform more reps.

Measuring can be seen as tracking the progress of your goals. It’s one thing to create projects and daily to-do’s, but often it’s not until you start measuring that you can really see the progress you are making. The element often left out of the career of many entrepreneurs and creative artists is to step back and chart the progress, look at the bigger picture to see what directions you go and how far you’ve come.

For example, let’s say you wanted to gain some new clients. You network, make some connections, send out some inquiries, pass out cards, the usual. You may get some or you may not. But what if you wrote down that you wanted to connect with 5 new potential clients this week? And as you connected, you marked it down. Or perhaps to give out 5 business cards a week. Suddenly it not only becomes a goal, but there is some added pressure to achieve it. In addition, you can now track the progress, 5 this week, 5 next. Soon you will be seeing 10 targets accomplished, then 20, then 50. You won’t be looking back over a month and fishing around pondering how you did, you’ll have it all written down.

Give the measuring / tracking process a try. Again this is much different than writing down goals, doing tasks and checking them off. Most of us do that now. Try measuring and charting your actions, steering them towards specific outcomes. Create some targets. You may find that weekly hectic work cycles suddenly become more clear when you can see your progress and more importantly feel like you are making progress.

Can you measure it? Can you manage it?

surface pro release date tablet review

Microsoft is letting the tech community get their first hands-on time with the new Surface Pro, and things are looking rather..positive. Early reports by technology blogs are looking good, with most saying that the promise shown by the Surface RT is coming to fruition with the Surface Pro. It’s still early yet, before the official Surface Pro release date, and these are preliminary reviews, so we’ll see.

At first I thought Microsoft was trying to put a different spin on our beloved iPad, but now, maybe they are working to create a new line of what future PC’s will look like. Either way, very intriguing to read though these new reviews.

The Verge – Surface Pro: an in-depth look at Microsoft’s super tablet

Gizmodo – Microsoft Surface Pro Hands-On: This Is What It Should Have Been All Along

Engadget – Microsoft Surface Pro hands-on

ZDNet – Hands-on with Microsoft’s Surface Pro

TechRadar – Hands on: Microsoft Surface Pro review

micosoft surface RT review

UPDATE: More reviews are mentioning the downsides, thicker and heavier, less battery life and more expensive then the original Surface RT. It is more of a laptop, but most cannot actually comfortably use it in their lap. It does come with a stylus which Microsoft should know may not be the best after spending a decade producing stylus-based laptops a few years back. When full Surface Pro reviews come out we’ll see what the verdict is. I am intrigued, not sure if I will get one, but intrigued.

qualcomm keynote ces

If you are not following CES, the annual Consumer Electronics Show, it’s not surprising. Many feel that it’s a dated venue, focused on hardware when the world is advancing via software. Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon skip it, but many such as Sony are still using it as a launch pad. The big keynote was made by Qualcomm this week (they make processor chips for phones) and you may have to be a geek to get the humor in the company attempting a hip and relevant presentation, or maybe not. Luckily we have The Verge to contribute color commentary via tweets. Check out the pics, read the tweets and don’t miss the short video clip at the bottom..hilarious…

Qualcomm’s insane CES 2013 keynote in pictures and tweets

dj career advice development

First let me say that someone has to be generic. Lots of things need to get done and not everyone can be a superstar. But what if you want more? What if you want to rise to a higher level in your career? I am sure you have seen lots of perfectly fine people, producing content, shooting video, writing on blogs, doing tutorials, entertaining with their craft such as audio, video, graphics, design, film, web or other types of media art.

They are good. They are not bad enough to be discounted and yet not entirely compelling enough to be followed. They are just kind of there.

Here are some ideas I have to take your career higher. To avoid being generic:

1. Convey the passion

It really does not matter what you do, it only matters that you get others excited about what you do. If you are doing something you really are passionate about it’s important to get that feeling out on a weekly basis to everyone that you can. We’ve all been pitched by people who are completely competent and spell things out logically, but there is no juice to it. And we’ve also heard people who are immersed in what they are doing and can’t wait to tell the world about it. The more you get your feelings and passion out there, the more people will sit up and take notice. Opportunities come not usually from being skilled in your industry, they come from first impressions and the fact that you can engage and entrance people. Confidence about your craft, passion about your industry, mix in some ego and shake vigorously.

2. Market the difference

You could be a web designer, photographer, graphic designer, marketing person, video producer or anyone creative. When you enter an industry you are entering a very large mass of people doing the same. But what is your twist? What is the hook? How are you different than your peers and competition? Try to find out what that difference is and market it. You need to figure out what separates you from the pack. Once you can nail that down, start getting it out there. Because potential clients and people becoming aware of you may be looking at a lot of people offering the same. Help them choose.

3. Get the word out

This could be a blog, a podcast, press releases, interviews, networking, email newsletter, whatever you need to do, get the word out on a regular basis about what you are doing. Don’t worry about the style, don’t try to craft everything you introduce to perfection, just get stuff out there. Show you are busy, show you are active, show you are everywhere. Keep people thinking of you. Keep them coming back. Often the most successful people are not the most talented, they are the people hustling. They seem to be everywhere, their projects and work flow out on a regular basic for the world to see. Keep the tides moving.

4. Find your voice

Look at anyone you admire. This could be an international person, star, business person. It could be a local mentor, associate, friend. What is it about them? What do they have that others do not? Perhaps they have a large following, they have been very successful in their business. What is their secret? Often it just boils down to the fact that they searched and found something they love to do or something they were good at. The first 3 steps here all are some part of it, but the core is finding your voice. It is sometimes what we would rather be doing. Start to shift to that. Move towards what you really want to do. You don’t have to be amazingly skilled in it, chances are you may not be (yet), but start to shift to your true calling. If you try enough things and take chances, you’ll eventually hit on some things you really are passionate about. Once you enter that realm, you can do the above steps, it will be easy to convey the passion, you will love telling the world about it and you’ll have a thing or two that should set you apart from the rest doing something similar. Keep in mind your voice changes over time, the career you have now is fine, but it may be time to move on. You may be on the tail end and it may be time for a new calling. Always continue to explore. Also once you find your voice, speak your mind. Let your opinions and thoughts come through. It sets you apart and people will feel more connected if they find you have something original or unique to say.

What about you? Are any of these steps now in your current career? Are they worth incorporating?


Very interesting blog post by Cap Watkins on quitting LinkedIn. Great to hear his perspective and it got me thinking about how LinkedIn has developed over the past couple years.

Quitting LinkedIn

Cap points out the influx of recruiters seeping through the service, and there is little doubt of that. He also mentions more updates flowing into the inbox. Yep, I’ve seen that. To me the site has been a good source of connecting but in the past year it’s transitioned to more of a social media site. Which means I have to go in and deal with stuff now. See who wants to connect to me, click away all these networking event invites, and mostly deal with needy emails, people wanting…something. To pitch something to me, something I should invest in, introduce me to their services, tell me about their event. It reminds me of going into Facebook and doing daily housecleaning.

Maybe I need to explore it more, or tap into what it has to offer, but the move from online resume to social network does seem a little out of character with the original mission. But I guess every site needs to blossom into a social network these days. I’m actually not on it much these days, so not yet compelled to quit. But I am interested to see where it goes with its current direction.


This morning I read how VEVO, the free HD music video streaming service, was coming to the Roku box. Typically I will watch VEVO on my iPad, iPad mini, iPhone or Xbox 360, and it is good to see it constantly expand to new platforms. I hope it evenutally comes to Apple TV, because that has the best set top box interface of any device I have. I’ve always been a fan of music, but especially music videos. Living through the 80’s was a front line experience of the rise (and maybe fall) of music videos and their dramtic impact on how our pop culture entertainment is shot and edited. For years I have bookmarked music videos here and there, some online, some on disc, many on YouTube. A few years back I discovered the VEVO channel on YouTube, it was great to finally have a home for music videos. The videos were eventually migrated to the dedicated VEVO.com website as well as the apps for iOS and Android.

The service is free to use and hosts thousands of videos. You used to be able to sign up for an account with a username and password, but now you are pretty much pushed into signing in through Facebook. This  activates a social element (which can be toggled off) that lets your Facebook friends see what you have been watching. You can search via genre, artist or song, and the software on all platforms encourages exploration. There is a lot of music, but VEVO does not have everything. Often you will find an artist from a decade or two ago (I recently searched Go West from the 80’s) only to find just one or two of a dozen or so videos available. Almost all recent artists are fully represented, and almost all current songs are avaialble (yes Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” is in there) but the real fun is in diving into the back catalog of the music you grew up with. You can save songs you like via playlists and also play continuous music video channels which is kind of like Pandora for video. There are video ads that pop up but they are not that often and usually limited to 15 or 30 seconds. The best platforms I have used are the Xbox 360 which has a great interface, the iPad mini which is the perfect size for searching and watching, and the desktop, watching the videos on a 27 inch iMac with Bose speakers is very fun indeed.

There is no reason to not try VEVO, especially if you like all you can listen to services such as Pandora and Spotify. You can download the app or go right to the website to get started. I’ll see you on there…


miscorsoft surface sales

Some excellent commentary from Paul Thurrott about Windows 8 sales. With a fall launch of the Microsoft Surface RT tablet and Windows 8, the new OS is off to a slow start for sure. Paul dives into why and a lot of what he says makes perfect sense. Most important is the industry itself. After years of Windows being the low cost alternative to Mac and OS X, Microsoft is now trying to have consumers pay more premium prices for both a new tablet and touch screen computers. Add into the mix that Windows 8 is a new paradigm shift from a usability standpoint, and its clear to see Microsoft has a good challenge this year. They’ve thrown millions of dollars at the problem (Surface and Windows 8 ads are saturating TV) but the fact that PC sales actually went down this past holiday season shows that the ball is clearly in Microsoft’s court. No doubt 2013 will be a pivotal year for Windows 8, the Surface tablet and PC’s in general.

Explaining Windows 8 PC Sales Over the Holidays | Windows 8 content from Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows

apple podcast app itunes ios

I’ve been listening to (and creating) podcasts since 2005 and I’ve always wanted to find a great iOS app that allows me to subscribe and listen to shows. Podcasts by Apple is that app. It works great, syncs to iCloud, allows selecting and subscribing to shows and has an inviting user interface. The thing I really can’t figure out is why people are so against it.

If you take a peek at the user reviews in iTunes for the Podcast app, you’ll see thousands of one star reviews. Now historically the iTunes store is sometimes like a zoo of confused users. You can scan for hours and see a huge amount of reviews from people who seemingly have trouble with technology. Rather than reviewing the actual piece of software, the user reviews are sort of a psychiatrist couch to lay down and work out your life troubles. Hundreds of hours of work to craft a solid app are shot down in an instant when a user “could not load app, just deleted it” or any number of issues. Most good software is reviewed positively, the iTunes store reviews are a good thing, but sometimes the negative comments can be over whelming. Which is the case with this poor little podcast app.

The app itself is easy to use. There is a built in store, just like iTunes or iBooks, and you can search around for thousands of free podcasts on any topic imaginable. If you are unfamiliar with podcasts, do check into them, they are a great source of info and you cannot beat the price. Once you find a show you want, you just click to subscribe to it. New episodes  can be downloaded automatically and your podcasts and your listening position sync via iCloud to all your iOS devices. So once I subscribe to a show, it shows up on my iPad, iPad mini and iPhone. You can download audio or video shows, see what is on the top of the charts as well as do keyword searches. There is even a Top Stations feature which works like a radio, you can “tune” and scan through shows to sample ones that may be of interest. Playback is easy, you can scan ahead or back in the show 10 or 30 seconds as well as change the playback speed. Many have commented on Apple’s Skeuomorphism design choices (where software and apps look like real life objects) and don’t love the fact that the actual playback screen resembles a reel to reel tape recorder, but I think it looks fine.

Do I have any problems with the app? No! It works, it syncs, I use it daily. I can’t understand the animosity toward the app, which provides you with thousands of free shows, and keeps track of everything, from subscriptions to downloads. Give it a try, don’t be mislead by the reviews. I have tried almost every other podcast app out there, there are several, but most have such convoluted interfaces I end up deleting them. For now I am sticking with Apple’s Podcast app. I don’t care what anyone says. I love it.

Podcasts app by Apple

table wars kindle ipad android surface samsung

The link below is an article written by yours truly for Broadcast Engineering Magazine and focuses on the current war happening concerning tablets. Although the actual fight for marketshare is shaping up pretty much as people are expecting (iPad has the clear lead) it certainly is far from over. Added to the fact that the article goes over the details concerning mobile TV. As people are detaching from the traditional TV set and moving towards portable entertainment, mobile TV entertainment will be increasingly important in the coming years. Most tablet manufacturers such as Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Google and Amazon are following the iTunes/iOS lead of creating an ecosystem that has a wide range of mobile entertainment. If an iPad, Kindle, Surface, Android or Nexus can have an all encompassing system and provide the vastest array of mobile entertainment and mobile TV options, than it has a chance to move to the head of the pack.

This past year I’ve had almost every kind of tablet (owned them, not review units) and in using devices such as the iPad 4, iPad mini, Samsung Galaxy Note and Galaxy Note II, Kindle Fire HD, Google Nexus 7 and others, some clear winners are emerging. As expected, it’s tough to beat Apple’s iOS system. The iCloud framework (which has always worked great for me) coupled with the app store and various services, provide a smooth as silk combo of ease of use plus polish. The iPad mini in particular takes it to another level with striking portability. The Android interface is less polished but continues to advance, in different directions, on the Kindle, Galaxy Note and Nexus. It still often feels cobbled together and less unified, although the Kindle Fire HD is making progress. I’ll dive deeper into all these units in the coming months. But this article below centers on where we are at now as well as a closer look at the current tablet mobile TV experience:

Tablet Wars: Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung and the Race for the Mobile TV Experience


Get ready, because the first of a couple of movies based on the life of Steve Jobs is set to launch this coming April. Cult of Mac is reporting that the movie “jOBS” will actually make its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, but the Ashton Kutcher starred film will get a wide release in April 2013.

Like many I am curious to see what they do with the story. After reading Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs book it was clear that Jobs lead a fascinating life. And while another movie is being developed on that book, it will be good to see a few takes on the life of Steve Jobs. I think, and hope, Ashton Kutcher will do a fine job and am curious about what elements the film decides to focus on. I guess we’ll all find out in a few months. What do you think?

Steve Jobs biopic starring Ashton Kutcher Coming in April


the hobbit 3D HFR review future

Seeing The Hobbit this weekend, I was curious to experience the new 3D HFR technology in action. Traditional movies are projected at 24fps (frames per second) and 3D HFR (high frame rate) doubles that to 48fps. You can search the web for more of a breakdown of the technical details of the technology and it’s pretty entertaining to see the people for it and the many people against it. Director Peter Jackson has some thoughts on it. As well as many critics chiming in on the look of HFR.

How you react to the new look may depend a lot on your current television setup at home. For those who have upgraded their TVs in the past few years, and have a high refresh rate toggled on (120hz or higher), they will adapt the quickest. Those with older TVs may have a little more trouble. The 48fps digital projection shows twice the amount of frames and eliminates the blur from motion we’ve associated with movies for the past many decades. This allows much more detail and crispness, making the picture much more vivid. Some have called it the “soap opera effect” because it recalls the TV from the 80s where afternoon soap operas were shot on standard definition video. Soaps did not look like film and they most certainly looked like video.

So how does the movie look in 3D HFR? Beautiful. The look was crisp and clear, and while it does not look much like traditional film, it does have a vibrance that is not matched by traditional 3D. I’ve gotten used to higher refresh rates so it looked pretty much as I expected it to look. Some have said there is almost too much detail, but why would you not want that type of detail in an epic movie like this? The HFR technology is most noticed when there is action on screen, when the camera is panning and whipping around. The typical blur is replaced by rock solid imagery. I can certainly see why it would be jarring for some, it definitely has a different look to it. In fact this was the first time I went to my local theater to see an FAQ posted on the front door.

The hobbit 3D HFR 48fps FAQ disclaimer

As for the movie itself, I have not quite decided my final verdict. It is definitely long and scenes extend well beyond what they need to. It’s a nearly 3 hour movie that could have easily been told in under 2. It’s also very violent for young kids and when it tries to inject the weighty world issues from the earlier “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, into essentially a lighthearted and simple adventure movie, the film looses a bit of its focus. When the next sequel comes out, I’ll decide to see it (the movie does end with a cliff hanger) but I do hope it is a bit shorter and more focused on story/emotion as opposed to dazzling effects. Having said that, I was never bored during The Hobbit, and it was pretty fun. It also had more humor than past movies, which was a welcome change.

As for 3D HFR, I think it is here to stay. Modern TVs are already adopting the technology and HRF does boost the level of detail especially for these types of movies. But check it out and see what you think. It is a different look, but a good one, and it looks like the future of cinema.

new google logo

Interesting story from Business Insider on how Google is focused on improving their free iOS apps to try to “win mobile”. They have launched or updated their Chrome browser, Google Search, Google Maps and YouTube apps in the past several months.

I don’t think it is really any focused strategy as much as Apple is now phasing out reliance on Google services and instead developing their own technologies. So of course Google must raise the bar to continue to be relevant on the iOS platform. A better strategy business-wise might have been for Google to pull all of their apps from the App Store and just have them available on Android. Apple vs. Google and iOS vs. Android always makes for compelling headlines, but Google making great apps for iOS seems like what they should be doing.

Google’s apps are getting better, especially as far as design goes, but I am not quite sure the strategy to take over iOS with great apps that are free makes the best business sense as this article describes.

Google Is Attacking Apple Inside Out – Business Insider

techmeme biggest technology stories 2012
I get my tech news from a lot of sources, but I have to say Techmeme is one of my favorites. They always cover a great scope of updated news and if you ever want to get up to speed on what is the latest in the technology industry, I recommend stopping by daily.

Every year they do a round up of the biggest stories. Actually the “tallest” stories, the stories that were big enough to take up almost their entire front page. This year they covered a lot, the new Apple iPad, iPad mini, WWDC, Microsoft Surface, Nokia Lumia, Kindle Fire HD, Tim Cook, Megaupload, Instagram, Facebook stock, OS X Mountain Lion, Tim Cook, Google, Droid RAZR HD, iOS 6, iOS6 Maps, Microsoft Windows Phone 8 and much more.

It was a wild tech year and I am sure 2013 will be even better. For now take a walk down memory lane with Techmeme’s scope of the past 12 months:

Techmeme’s biggest (i.e. tallest) stories of 2012 – Techmeme News

How do I sum up the wisdom of four talented career development gurus in one blog post? Impossible! But I will certainly try. When I give a speech or seminar I often mention these four individuals, Anthony Robbins, Stephen Covey, Tim Ferriss and David Allen, so I thought it was time for a recap on the four people who made a huge impact, and still do, on my career. Below are four of the bigger concepts these guys cover:

Anthony Robbins: Consistent Focus, Repetition and Immediate Actions

Tony always says that “repetition is the mother of skill”, which means the more and more you do something, the better you get at it. Doing is the key, the more you actually put something into practice, the better and better you become. He will be the first person to tell you that all the self development in the world will do nothing until you actually start putting the methods to use. Focus is important as well, whatever you focus on consistently, starts to come to fruition. A lot of people spread their focus too wide or it’s constantly changing. He also talks about immediate actions. Once you set a plan in place, you must take a step or two immediately towards the goal. No delay. You cannot plan to work on it next week, the first steps must happen right away to create momentum.

Stephen Covey: Find Your Voice and Inspire Others To Find Theirs

He wrote the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, and the quote above is actually the 8th Habit, from the book of the same name. Find what you truly love to do, find what your career path should be. This takes lots of soul-searching and exploring, and it often takes making a move, but it must be done. The next step is to inspire others, help them find out what they want to do. Help can be in many forms. The more you help others with their dreams, the more you will see your own dreams come to fruition. He also talks about sharpening the saw, keeping your skills top notch as well as focusing on what matter most to you, not urgent items pushed on you by others.

Tim Ferriss: Get Rid of the Clutter, Get Help and Focus on the Important

Tim says in his book the 4-Hour Work Week that when you work 9 to 5 for years (or decades) and then branch off on your own, you still retain all the same methods, even if they don’t work. You still get up and work at 9am (even though nighttime may be your most productive) and you still work within the 8 hour (and more) grid. Conform your new business to you, not to dated office methods. Use virtual assistants and delegate your workflow of mundane items. Stop taking in info from the web all day, go on an info-fast, most of that info is quickly dated and not relevant to your empire. Most importantly, don’t work 8 hours just doing busy work if you don’t have work, scale back and focus on what matters.

David Allen: Get Things Done by Collecting All Your Info, Sorting, Reviewing and Doing

David Allen created GTD (Getting Things Done) and it’s a great system that actually can be explained fairly briefly. Find a system, electronic or paper, to collect all your thoughts, ideas, tasks, goals and projects. All of them must be captured/collected or else your mind will keep thinking about them. Next is to process them, stuff that can be done in 2 minutes, just do them, things that need to be scheduled for a certain time or location, track them. Work through these 5 steps: Collect, Process, Organize, Review and Do. Put items into these 6 areas of focus: Current Actions, Current Projects, Areas of Responsibility, Yearly Goals, 5 Year Vision and Life Goals.

Saying the above items are the tip of the iceberg is an understatement. Google them all, read what they have to say, get their books and products. Check out their blogs. Even if you just start with one, most anything by any of these four will be highly enlightening and will definitely help you ramp up your career to where you want it to be.

Google: Anthony Robbins, Stephen Covey, Tim Ferriss and David Allen

Websites: Anthony Robbins, Stephen Covey, Tim Ferriss and David Allen

Of course these are my interpretations of my favorites, do you have any favorite methods? Or favorite authors? Let me know.

Really interesting series of three blog posts, two discussing Facebook vs Twitter and one going over the process of reinvention. It’s best to read them all to get a sense of the scope:

Matt Haughey – Why I love Twitter and barely tolerate Facebook

Jason Kottke – Twitter is a machine for continual self-reinvention

Scott Schuman – After One Year In New York – Kara

I have been wondering myself why Facebook and Twitter feel so different, and how most of us have strong ties to one or the other. These articles do a good job of showing how Facebook is rooted in the past, with your detailed history, while Twitter is more immediate and allows you to sculpt your personality more the way you would like to.

twitter vs facebook kara reinvent yourself

photos by  Scott Schuman

I was an early fan of Twitter (joined in 2007) when it used to be a side project of the people who developed the podcast directory Odeo. Back then it was a very fun group and I was mostly following fellow podcasters. Conversation was loose and it truely was “What Are You Doing Right Now?”. It also allowed getting fast advice and checking in with peeps. It was fun. But over the years its expanded into a stream of promotion and links. I backed off from Twitter in recent years, I ended up deleting all the people I was following this year and have (very) slowly been building it back up with people I find interesting. It has made it a bit more interesting, but I still need to devote more time to exploring, or rather rediscoving, Twitter again.

I was much more into Facebook. I found the visual atmosphere with text, graphics and video allowed telling a much more compelling story. It really tied into my whole producer/director background. I was very active on Facebook though with my connections from family, friends and various public careers (writing, photography, directing, etc) I ended up maxing out my friend limit (currently 5000).

This past year I feel Facebook has been too much information overload. The site is certainly geared to having you spend more time on it, but the flood of notifications have pretty much made it more of a chore to sift through. Of course what I really need to do is trim down my connections, but that would take a lot of work, and I don’t have the time. The site is great for flipping through while you have idle time, but I find discovering really interesting things on it happens far less often. I go on and basically do information management, clicking away hundreds of notifications, untagging myself from photos and reporting people who spam my wall. Feels more like work. Sorry Jennifer, I really don’t want to play Bubble Bang or whatever it’s called.

I have no clear answer on what service is best. I do like Facebook’s diary of record, it is fun to look back a year or two to see what I was up to. Facebook’s subscriptions are a nice addition since I can no longer add new friends, people can subscribe to my life and also like my Fan page. I do intend to spend more time with my Twitter feed though, I think there is value there, I just need to follow the right people. Feel free to follow me and let me know what you are up to. I think having both as apps on my iPad, iPad mini and iPhone make keeping up amazingly easy, so there is no excuse to explore them more or perhaps explore them from a different perspective. Let me know what you think, and if you are interesting to follow, let me know that too.

I do think the above articles I linked to above are spot on with their assessment of Facebook and Twitter, thanks to Gina Trapani on Dan Benjamin’s podcast The Crossover for bringing it up. I have been thinking about how the two sites work a lot in the past few days. In the end, I am glad they both exist.

It would be odd indeed with an on-line world without Twitter and Facebook.

photo tips model portland maine photography

Everyone needs a professional photo of themselves these days for marketing. It used to be just models and actors, now everyone is in the spotlight and having a set of photos for promotional purposes is key. Here are 4 tips:

1. Get a Great Photographer

No matter what the price, get the best photographer you can afford. These days everyone who has a digital camera is a photographer, and often are willing to shoot you for free. Or perhaps you have a cousin who just got a new digital SLR. Only go down that road if they are really excellent. The problem is you’ll be using these images to market yourself and if they look amateur, you will be perceived as amateur. I have seen countless models in particular do trades for prints and then use these as a portfolio, needless to say they get little to no work. This is your visual resume, so make sure you focus on great shots above all else.

2. Pick Your Photos

After the shoot its OK to get some opinions, but in the end you’ll need to live with these images. After everyone throws in their two cents, you’ll need to look at the pictures for months and months. Make sure the ones you want out there marketing you are the ones you love the best. Otherwise you’ll not be as confident sharing them and you’ll tend to hold back. If its a shot you love you’ll have no problem sharing it with the world. And sharing your photo with the world is exactly what you need to do. Also chances are if you do a photo shoot you’ll have many to choose from, and chances are also you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to choose “the right one”. Don’t worry…whatever you choose will be fine.

3. Don’t Go Photoshop Crazy

A little goes a long way. If you airbrush too much then when you actually go to meet with the person who you’ve sent the picture to they may not recognize you, leading to disappointment and getting the meet off to an awkward start. Touch-ups are fine and are standard procedure these days, but tweak…don’t transform.

4. Update Often

I’ve seen so many headshots that are literally five years old. I recommend getting photos done yearly, you may not notice the changes, but others will. You want a very accurate representation of yourself. Also styles and clothing change, as does your hair and features, so you’ll want to look current. Most people get better looking and improve their style as they get older and learn what looks good on them, so make sure you have updated images that accurately portray these advances.

Franklin McMahon Studio is a creative agency located in Portland, Maine specializing in broadcast video, web video, web design, photography and marketing. Our three divisions, Maine Video Production, Maine Web Design and Maine Photography, provide professional services including commercials for TV, web design, SEO, web development, on-line web video, commercial photography and social media marketing. Call us at 207.772.5724 or drop us a note via our contact form and say hello!


I’ve been using Pulse for what seems like forever and I am constantly impressed with the improvements they have been making to both the web version as well as the iOS app.

Pulse is a news reader that allows you to read all your favorite blogs and websites in one place. Each time you go into the app it automatically updates so all the content is funky fresh. The best part is you can create a Pulse account and sync your favorite sites from the web to iOS to Android.

I’ve been recently focused on following bloggers that I like, and Pulse makes it super easy to collect the best. I also like that I can sync from my iPad to my iPad mini to my iPhone. Would not want to miss anything.

Did I mention it was free? Check it out http://www.pulse.me/

How the Kindle Paperwhite Works

kindle paperwhite tablet ereader ebook

Interesting diagram on the inner workings of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, the technology that makes it all work.

I remember when it first came out I was amazed that there was finally a Kindle with a backlight. The photos of the unit looked great. Then I got one. I realized the photos showing a completely white screen were not exactly accurate. In bright light it was pretty good, but in dimmer light you could easily see the uneven lighting especially at the bottom of the display. It was distracting and especially disappointing considering the flawless product shots on Amazon.com.

At some point I’ll do a Kindle Paperwhite review, but for now I will say it is certainly the best Kindle out, very light weight and portable. But I am still waiting for a better screen.

Every since I purchased my Apple iPad mini (64GB LTE) I have been deciding on what e-book reader to use as my primary app to enjoy books. I’ve had every major version of the Kindle hardware, and have been using my Kindle library for years, so I do have quite a collection build up. However the Apple iOS ecosystem makes it very convenient to explore the iBooks Store and just click and download. Up until now I have stuck with the Kindle app, just for the flexibility of using multiple devices. With the iPad mini though, I could see this unit as my primary reading device going forward. It is thin and light enough, and makes a nearly perfect reading experience.


portland maine video photo studio

Franklin McMahon Studio specializes in broadcast video, marketing, web development and photography. The studio works with national clients such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Adobe, Amazon, FOX and Time Warner as well as local clients including Maine Office of Tourism, Eastland Park Hotel, Women to Women and Unum.

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